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Anti-Crime Bill Clears With $5 Billion For Programs for Youths

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Congress cleared a scaled-down crime bill last month after the Clinton Administration and Congressional leaders agreed to slash proposed funding levels for crime-prevention programs in order to garner enough Republican votes to secure passage.

After weeks of fiercely partisan debate over the merits of punishment and prevention efforts, lawmakers reduced by nearly $2 billion funding proposed in the bill for crime-prevention programs, seeking to satisfy Republicans who labeled the provisions as "pork."

The bill then passed the Senate by a 61-to-39 vote and the House 235 to 195. President Clinton is expected to sign it later this month.

Across-the-Board Cuts

The bill authorizes nearly $5 billion for youth-related prevention programs, a substantial drop from the $7 billion agreed to in a House-Senate conference. (See Education Week, Aug. 3, 1994.)

It authorizes $30.2 billion over six years to hire police officers and build prisons, and also raises penalties for repeat offenders.

While the money must still be appropriated, proponents claimed that they could pay for the programs with a trust fund created by eliminating federal jobs.

No single prevention program included in the original conference report was eliminated, but most were cut back or consolidated. The bill authorizes:

  • $90 million for "ounce of prevention" programs designed to assist youths who live in high-crime areas through mentoring, vocational, and after-school programs.
  • $626 million for grants to aid the development of crime-prevention plans tailored to local problems.
  • $380 million for a block grant to underwrite youth programs such as job training, midnight sports, and gang prevention.
  • $1.6 billion in "local partnership funds" to pay for health and education programs in areas with high unemployment rates.
  • $1 billion to establish peer-supervision programs for drug offenders operated through drug courts.

Despite the reductions in proposed spending, education advocates praised the legislation.

"We can make a serious dent in crime through education," said Timothy J. Dyer, the executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "It will be a boon to our society if educators are able to convince young people that crime is not the route to travel."

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