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Youth PROMISE Act (H.R. 1064/S. 435)
“Youth Prison Reduction Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act”

The Need:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, homicide remains the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10- to 24-years-old.  Among African American youth, homicide is the leading cause of death.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that we spend an average of $30,000 per prisoner per year, totaling to $65 billion annually for maintaining the national, state, and local prisons across the country.
  • Across the country, local organizations are engaging in exciting practices that have proven to be effective at reducing juvenile delinquency and recidivism and at a much lower cost than incarceration.  Unfortunately, these programs often struggle to maintain funding, and many in the community and justice system are not aware of the variety of community-based services available to help at-risk youth.

Policy based on catchy but misguided slogans such as “adult crime, adult time” has not served our youth or communities well, and it is time that we refocus our approach to youth violence by investing in proven community-based prevention.

Why the Youth PROMISE Act is Revolutionary:

  • We are seeing a shift in the criminal justice system, and a new emphasis on the proactive implementation of evidence-based practices for prevention and rehabilitation.
  • For the first time, local communities are provided with the manpower, money, and motivation for learning more about the causes of youth delinquency.
  • This bill represents the government’s commitment to effectively addressing community needs despite the economic recession.

Youth PROMISE Act Overview:

To divert youth away from criminal street gang activity, delinquency, violence and prisons the Youth PROMISE Act will…

  • Engage the whole community to examine all aspects of a youth’s well being.

PROMISE Coordinating Councils (PCCs) will be established as sustainable committees of local leaders and community members.  They will strategize, develop, coordinate, implement and oversee custom-tailored comprehensive programs to address the community’s youth-violence reduction needs.

They will represent (where possible) the following:

  • nonprofit organizations
  • faith-based organizations
  • schools and education community
  • health and mental health providers
  • social services
  • judiciary system
  • law enforcement
  • parents
  • youth representatives
  • community members
  • Creatively assess and monitor opportunities for violence reduction.

A PROMISE Advisory Panel will focus on collecting data to assess the local needs and existing resources for preventing violence.  They will aid in the selection of grantees, and develop standards to oversee and evaulate the PCCs for metrically driven success in implementing intervention and prevention programs.

  • Build upon local strengths, tools and knowledge, and then reinforce them.

Relationships with local colleges, universities, and researchers will be developed to better analyze and evaluate successful crime reduction strategies with multiple variables.  This information will be provided to the PCCS and the public at large.

  • Spend more at the front end instead of the back.

Sustainable funding will be provided in the form of federal grants to local governments and Indian tribes to do the following:

  • Coordinate and empower the success of local PCC programming
  • Support institutions of higher education to act as regional research partners with PCCs.
  • Encourage public and private entities to implement new or existing innovative crime or delinquency prevention or intervention strategies.
  • Expand civil services to alleviate the effects of youth violence, including juvenile witness and victim protection programs, mental health facilities, and specialized trainings for law enforcement officers.