Philadelphia PA- Following a violent weekend in Philadelphia during which ten shootings occurred, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for an end to the school to prison pipeline and pushed for passage of a bipartisan plan that would allow Pennsylvania cities to invest more in proven crime prevention strategies like youth mentoring. In North Philadelphia, Casey was joined by law enforcement, mentorship groups and a youth advocate who was once a victim of gun violence to discuss the need to aid children before they encounter the criminal justice system and curb youth violence. As major criminal justice reform legislation works its way through Congress this year, Casey’s legislation is backed by Republican Senators and could be included in the overhaul.
“While there is no easy or purely federal solution, there are steps we can take to combat the cycle of trauma and fear that is devastating our communities across the Commonwealth. We need to ensure that law enforcement has the resources to keep our neighborhoods safe and hold criminals accountable,” Senator Casey said. “We also cannot accept a future in which an entire generation of young, mostly minority men, is more likely to end up in jail than in good paying jobs. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a waste of our children’s potential."
On any given day in the United States, approximately 60,000 young people are incarcerated, costing taxpayers about $5 billion each year. The Youth PROMISE Act (Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) would empower local communities to fund, implement and evaluate evidence-based youth violence prevention and intervention strategies. These prevention practices, such as mentoring and after-school programs, reduce crime more effectively and at a lower cost than incarceration. In fact, a recent study in Pennsylvania found that it saved $5 for every $1 invested in high-quality prevention and intervention programs. Through a comprehensive and coordinated approach to youth violence prevention, the Youth PROMISE Act:
- Makes not more than 20% of the amount available for Youth Mentoring Programs in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency to carry out Youth PROMISE.
- Amends the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to establish a PROMISE Advisory Panel to assist the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in:
- Assessing and developing standards and evidence-based practices to prevent juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity.
- Collecting data in designated geographic areas to assess the needs and existing resources for juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity.
- Authorizes the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to award grants to local governments and Indian tribes to:
- Plan and assess evidence-based and promising practices for juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention, especially for at-risk youth.
- Implement PROMISE plans, developed by local PROMISE Coordinating Councils (PCCs), for coordinating and supporting the delivery of juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs in local communities.
- PROMISE Coordinating Councils will include community and faith-based groups, schools, parents, youth, courts, law enforcement, health and social service providers, non-profits and other stakeholders.
- Establishes a National Research Center for Proven Juvenile Justice Practices to provide PCCs and the public with research and other information about evidence-based practices related to juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang prevention or intervention.
- Directs the Administrator to award grants to institutions of higher education to serve as regional research partners with PCCs that are located in the same geographic region as the educational institution.
The Youth PROMISE Act is supported by over 300 organizations, including the Alliance for Children and Families, the American Correctional Association, the AFT, the Children’s Defense Fund, the ACLU, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the NEA, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.