Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 5963 To reauthorize and improve the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Question: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended (2/3 vote required).

Result: Passed in House, 382 to 29, 20 not voting. GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society: The original federal unconstitutional and subversive intrusion into juvenile crime began with the “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.”

Last reauthorized in 2002, each reauthorization has expanded federal overreach, often by means of grants, to achieve dominance over local police and state functions. The common pattern today sees liberal agendas concocting the poison and a poisonous antidote in the same laboratory.   Federal efforts to undermine the traditional family and religious education are ignored as contributors to juvenile crime.

With this reauthorization measure, we are again told that “improvements in the federal program are needed.” Instead, the proper course, also consistent with the Constitution and federalism, should be to undo the previous damage by undoing the federal bureaucracy set up to manipulate state and local governments in non-federal areas.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Since 2011, an amendment to House Rule XII requires that, to be accepted for introduction by the House Clerk, all bills (H.R.) and joint resolutions (H.J.Res.) must provide a document stating “as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” [Emphasis added.]

Rather than improving respect for the authority of the Constitution, this requirement has often served to create the mere appearance of respect for constitutional limits while continuing unconstitutional business as usual.

Indeed, the sponsor of this reauthorization, Mr. Curbelo of Florida, followed a common practice when he asserted: “Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following: Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.” Section 8 does spell out in detail the powers given to Congress. But managing the handling of juvenile crime and delinquency is not among them. Nor does Mr. Curbelo give us any indication where in the Section 8 list he thinks he has found such authority.

Indeed, the Establishment media and federal politicians of both parties regularly retail the collectivist view that the federal government is qualified and has the responsibility to address virtually all problems of society using taxpayer dollars. This agenda is totally incompatible with carefully crafted limited federal government given us by our founding fathers.

In addition to violating constitutional constraints, the intended solutions in this program rely on “progressive” concepts of social engineering.   Often in these reauthorizations of federal overreach, we are supposed to be reassured that the legislated “improvements” are “evidence based.”

We provide here excerpts from the bipartisan leaders of the “debate” over this measure, per the Congressional Record, that illustrate the “unlimited power of the federal government” attitude.

Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida: 

“H.R. 5963 includes a number of positive reforms, all aimed at improving services to keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile system and help juvenile offenders turn their lives around.

“First, the bill’s reforms will set these children up for long-term success. They will help them gain the skills they need to become productive members of society or a second chance to reach their full potential. These reforms will also give State and local leaders the flexibility to meet specific and unique needs of vulnerable kids in their communities.

“The legislation also prioritizes what works, focusing on evidence-based strategies that will help reduce juvenile delinquency. It will also give policymakers, State and local leaders, and service providers a better understanding of the best ways to serve kids across the country.

“Finally, the bill improves oversight and accountability to ensure juvenile justice programs are delivering positive results for children and to protect the taxpayers’ investment in these important programs.”

Bobby Scott, D-Virginia:

“Mr. Speaker, juvenile courts were established by States over 100 years ago on the emerging legal theory that children should not be held fully responsible for their actions, a theory proven by scientific research into impulse control and brain development. The capacity to rehabilitate children became the focus of the system rather than punishment of offenders….

“Long overdue for reauthorization, H.R. 5963 creates Federal guardrails that protect children in the juvenile justice system within each State. In the 14 years since Congress last reauthorized the program, there have been advancements in research and expansion of evidence informing improved methods to prevent inappropriate youth incarceration and to reduce delinquency.

“The bill we consider today includes necessary improvements in Federal policy firmly grounded in facts that demonstrate that public investments in services to our youth, particularly trauma-informed care and alternatives to incarceration, will produce positive results for at-risk youth. Those results, in turn, will lead to reduced crime and long-term cost savings.

“H.R. 5963 requires, for the first time, that State juvenile justice plans take into account the latest scientific research on adolescent development and behavior, recognizing the importance of prevention and early intervention in juvenile crime policy.”



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