The latest figures for state budget shortfalls in 2012 reach as high as $125 billion. Not surprisingly, as budgets continue to dissolve, juvenile justice reformers are watching hard-won victories for better programming fall prey to short-sighted budget cuts. NJJN has heard from our members that in the current climate, policy changes become “all about the money."
Yet, at the same time, it is a great moment of opportunity for states to rethink their juvenile justice policies and adopt the most cost-beneficial ways to hold youth accountable and help them get back on the right track.
As a result, state-based advocacy groups must have a baseline understanding of their state budgets — including proposed and historical expenditures, revenue streams and budgeting processes and timelines—so they can make sound fiscal arguments at the right moments.
Change agents also need to know how to translate this knowledge about budgets and budget shortfalls into nuanced messages that help decision makers to make healthy policy decisions for youth.