Federal File: Slow going; The Mitchell fund

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Some Congressional critics say the Clinton Administration is following the lead of its predecessors in paying only scant attention to reforming the juvenile-justice system.

At a recent hearing on the subject, Rep. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared dumbfounded upon learning that a task force created to coordinate federal juvenile-justice policy has met only once in 20 years, in 1992.

It has not met at all since President Clinton took office.

The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention was created in 1974. It comprises Cabinet officials and nine juvenile-justice advocates named by Congressional leaders and the White House.

The council is required by law to meet quarterly and to provide annual reports to Congress. Aides working on juvenile-justice issues say no such reports have materialized.

During the hearing, Mr. Schumer grilled John Wilson, the acting head of the Justice Department's office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, over the council's lack of action.

Mr. Wilson, who will soon be permanently replaced by another Justice official, Shay Bilchik, said meetings have been stalled under the Clinton Administration because the President named members to the council just this summer.

The Senate majority leader, George J. Mitchell, is retiring after this term, but the Maine Democrat has
$1 million left in his campaign war chest.

So he has decided to use at least half of the contributions to start a college-scholarship fund.

He announced the fund last month and said Maine students will be eligible for one-year scholarships of up to $2,500. No one high school will be able to claim more than two recipients until each school in the state has one.

The senator has pledged about one-half of his war chest to the fund. The remainder has been refunded to contributors or set aside for refunds. Any money not refunded will be added to the scholarship fund.

Senator Mitchell, who announced his retirement last March, will also hold fund raisers this fall in Washington and his home state to raise additional money for scholarships.

Students will be chosen based on academic performance, financial need, and public service.

Vol. 13, Issue 40

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