Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Budget Reductions for Juvenile Justice that Make You Go Hmmmmm

As counties have developed more community-based programs and more cost-effective strategies for working with youthful offenders, we have seen a steady decline in the number of youth placed in secure confinement. Yet, another round of reductions to funding for juvenile justice programs, if approved, will hit counties hard as the legislature considers the proposals made by the Department of Administration to lapse funds for the Department of Corrections budget.

As it relates to juvenile justice funding, by far the largest single cut among the DOC lapses is from Youth Aids, which was already cut by 10 percent in the budget bill, and it has been eroded badly by inflation over the last decade. Taken together, the budget bill and new lapses reduce the 2011-12 Youth Aids funding to counties by 14 percent (without factoring in the increased loss from inflation), at a time when DOC is charging counties 3.3 percent more for youths placed in the state’s juvenile correctional institutions, a portion of which is the result of including an additional $17/day in the daily rate to help pay (over 10 years) the deficits incurred as the institution population dropped much faster than any savings could be generated.

From an outside view, what seems harder to understand is why half of the DOC lapses are coming from juvenile corrections (and mostly from Youth Aids to counties) even though juvenile programs account for one tenth of the total DOC budget.

For more detailed information, you can check out the Wisconsin Budget Project blog posting titled “Shifting the Shaft”

Jim Moeser

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