Congratulations! You’ve won a long, hard fight to get legislation passed that makes sure local jurisdictions fund community-based alternatives to detention and long-term lockup for youth in trouble with the law.
But how secure is your victory? Next year’s legislature could reverse the new law or raid the funds for something it deems more important.
While nothing’s ever set in stone, there are some approaches you can take to protect this investment in young people. “Funding Community-Based Supervision: Legislative Levers to Lock in Local Funding,” a publication of NJJN’s Fiscal Policy Center, provides four examples of funding legislation that are designed to trigger discussion or re-negotiation among key participants when funding is threatened or reduced.
These examples suggest ways in which local governments can be protected from the potential financial risks of assuming responsibility for the supervision and care of youth involved in the justice system, instead of sending them to state-run institutions.
The report describes legislative mechanisms that
1) link funding;
2) create firewalls to prevent fund tampering by future legislators;
3) give counties the ability to opt out of community-based care obligations; and
4) create a constitutional amendment to protect trust funds.
These approaches have the added benefit of opening doors for unexpected partnerships between those who share a common interest in safe communities and reduced recidivism.