Published Online: February 19, 1997

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Clinton Budget Proposes 94% Increase To Combat Youth Crime, Delinquency

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Washington

In his State of Union Address, President Clinton said that combating youth crime would be one of the highest priorities of his second term. Now, he's asking members of Congress to make it theirs, too.

When Mr. Clinton unveiled his $19 billion budget proposal for the Department of Justice this month, juvenile-crime programs got a bigger percentage boost than any other department initiative.

More than $233 million in fiscal 1998 would be devoted to either preventing juveniles from committing crimes or prosecuting and incarcerating them. That represents a 94 percent hike from the $174 million already allocated to juvenile justice and delinquency-prevention programs this fiscal year.

The most expensive item in Mr. Clinton's juvenile-crime arsenal is a $100 million plan to train and equip prosecutors to reduce gang-related crimes and violent juvenile offenses. The money would, in part, pay for prosecutors who specialize in trying youth gangs.

Spread Too Thin?

The White House's proposed budget also would pay for a new $75 million effort to decrease truancy and school violence. School districts and communities would be eligible for grants to devise programs that reduce juvenile crime and foster youth-violence prevention, according to budget documents.

Mr. Clinton is also trying to help the country's beleaguered juvenile-court system handle the escalating caseloads of young offenders by establishing a $50 million "violent-youth court program."

The project would help move young violent offenders through the justice system by providing grants to courts, parole offices, and other centers to hire additional workers, for example.

The president is also calling for $8 million to fund groups that set up residential programs for at-risk or delinquent youths.

The proposals will be folded into a juvenile-crime bill that the administration will send to Congress in the next few months, Justice Department officials said.

While most education leaders support the idea of financial aid to help reduce school violence, many are also wary that the proposed aid would be too dispersed to be of much use.

"We could use any help we can get, but if it's spread across creation, who knows what it will it produce?" said Jeff Simering, the legislative director for the Council of the Great City Schools, a Washington group that represents large urban districts.

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