The Select Education Subcommittee of the House of Representatives heard testimony June 6 on what role the federal government should play in the prevention and intervention of juvenile crime.

The Juvenile Crime Control and Delinquency Prevention Act (HR 1900), authored by Reps. Jim Greenwood, R-Pa., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., is designed to reduce juvenile crime by giving states and local governments more flexibility to address their needs.

“This legislation acknowledges that most successful solutions to juvenile crime are developed at the state and local level of government by those individuals who understand the unique characteristics of youth in their area,” said Greenwood.

Education Subcommittee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., expressed the importance of the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House in 1999 (424-2) as an amendment: “We must not be complacent. Too many young people get involved in criminal activity, and we must do all we can to continue the downtrends of the past five years.”

Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Colo., said he does not support the bill because “I believe we need to do something serious to help kids who are in troubled situations, and we need to work on prevention rather than responses.”

Schaffer said juvenile violence prevention efforts have been uncoordinated to date, and there has been a lack of quantification that shows the effectiveness of the various programs.

“I’m for our dollars being spent better to help kids,” he said. “We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs that don’t work, and only a fraction of that on the handful of programs that are effective. Our one chance to do that is through legislation. HR 1900 does not move in this direction at all.”