SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCADMINISTRATION'S ANTI-GANG AND YOUTH VIOLENCE INITIATIVE
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, Jointly With Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families, Committee on Education and the Workforce,
The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 10:21 a.m., in room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bill McCollum and Hon. Frank Riggs (chairmen of the subcommittees) presiding.
Present: Representatives Bill McCollum, Frank Riggs, Steven Schiff, Stephen E. Buyer, Steve Chabot, Bob Barr, Asa Hutchinson, George W. Gekas, Howard Coble, James Greenwood, Michael N. Castle, Fred Upton, Ron Paul, Charles E. Schumer, Matthew G. Martinez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Martin T. Meehan, Robert Wexler, John Conyers, Jr., Maxine Waters, Steven R. Rothman, Carolyn McCarthy, Tim Roemer, Dale E. Kildee, Robert C. Scott, Rubén Hinojosa, George Miller, and Chaka Fattah.
Also present: Representative Zoe Lofgren.
Crime staff present: Paul J. McNulty, chief counsel; Aerin Bryant, research assistant; Kara Norris, staff assistant; Nicole R. Nason, counsel, and David Yassky, minority counsel.
Education staff present: Lynn Selmser, professional staff; Dan Dodgen, congressional fellow; and Erika Otto, professional staff.
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OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN MCCOLLUM
Mr. MCCOLLUM [presiding]. This hearing, joint hearing, of the two subcommittees will come to order at this time.
I want to thank everybody for participating in this. It's a real pleasure this morning to have the Subcommittee on Crime and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families of the Education and Workforce Committee together. Chairman Riggs and I have known each other quite some time, and I know that as chairman of the Early Childhood Committee, he brings to this particular Congress a special background that I think is immensely valuable. He's a former law enforcement officer, and I know how much that's going to mean to the juvenile crime issue today.
It's a great pleasure to have the Attorney General before usgood morningas we proceed with the first set of hearings today on one of the most critical subjects that this Congress is going to face: the question of how we deal with the juvenile justice system and juvenile crime.
I also want to thank Chairman Riggs and the staff of the Education and Workforce Committee for their flexibility and cooperation in setting up this joint hearing. I look forward to continuing to work closely with them on all of the matters that concern both of our subcommittees.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the unveiling of the administration's juvenile crime initiative last week in Boston, President Clinton made the following observation: ''There are now about 52 million young Americans in our schools, the large school-age population ever, even bigger than the biggest baby-boom year. And so we know that we've got about 6 years to turn this juvenile crime thing around or our country is going to be living with chaos, and my successors will not be giving speeches about the wonderful opportunities of the global economy; they'll be trying to keep body and soul together.''
The President's absolutely right about this storm of juvenile crime that's coming. All levels of government must act now before it's too late.
As many of you know, the Subcommittee on Crime held six regional meetings around the country last year to hear how State and local law enforcement officials are preparing for this expected surge in youth crime. Over 40 States participated in these meetings. And while a variety of views were expressed about what should be done, everyone agreed that we're facing a potential crime explosion.
By now, we have all heard the statistics regarding the dramatic rise in juvenile violent crime over the past decade. We also know how violent teenage criminals can be. One fact I find especially disturbing is that 18-year-olds commit more murder in this country than any other age. Think about that: more murders by high school kids than 22- or 26- or 30-year-old people.
How many of those 18-year-old killers were repeatedly cycled through our country's juvenile justice system at younger and possibly more hopeful stages in their lives? The statisticians tell us that it is a very high percentage. What could have been to hold those young people accountable at the initial discovery of their law-breaking predilections? How could the justice system have intervened and made a difference in their lives before they became such a clear danger to the community?
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The problem we face is this: nowhere does the revolving door of justice spin faster than the juvenile justice system. Only 10 percent of violent juvenile offendersthose convicted of murder, rape, robbery, and assaultreceive any sort of secure confinement. Many juveniles receive no punishment at all. Nearly 40 percent of violent juvenile offenders who come into contact with the justice system have their cases dismissed. By the time the courts finally lock up an older teenager on a violent crime charge, the offender has often a long rap sheet with arrests starting in their early teens. Forty-three percent of juveniles in State institutions had more than five prior arrests and 20 percent have been arrested more than 10 times. Approximately four-fifths of these offenders had previously been on probation and three-fifths had been committed to a correctional facility at least once in the past. The average length of institutionalization of a juvenile who has committed a violent crime is only 353 days.
I was pleased to learn that the administration's initiative calls for incentive grants to the States for establishing graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders. This is similar to the proposal I put forward last year in my bill and again this year in H.R. 3, the Juvenile Crime Control Act of 1997.
There simply must be a sanction for every crime. As noted criminologist James Q. Wilson observes, ''There are ought to be penalties from the earliest offense...so that juveniles are treated by the State the same way we treat our children. You don't ignore the fact that they're wrecking the house until they finally burn it down. You try to deal with it right away.''
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When families fail to instill virtue and self-restraint in children, government must be prepared to immediately send a message to those children, and their parents, that law-breaking will not be tolerated, and that children will be held accountable. Too many minor crimes by young offenders, such as truancy and vandalism, are tolerated by law enforcers, sending the message that there is no sanction for illegal behavior. Such wrongdoing left unaddressed may be a precursor to more serious crimes.
I met yesterday in my office with a group of juvenile judges from around the country, and I discussed this very fact with them, and they completely concur that the basic thrust of the problem we have today is the failure of the system to be able to cope with the very early juvenile delinquent acts and what we call status offender problems, where they used to be involved, but where most of them today simply aren't, for various reasons.
The challenges faced by law enforcement will be unparalleled as we enter the new millennium. The American criminal justice system, and particularly the juvenile justice system, is simply not prepared to face tomorrow's wave of violent young people. Only by taking decisive action now can America prevent this wave of young people from committing unprecedented numbers of violent crime.
And I might add that I'm convinced personally, and look forward to hearing from the Attorney General today because I suspect she is, too, that there's a way to stop that from happening; that is, a way to at least mitigate and reduce the sizeable expected number of violent crimes this young group will commit, if we'll just address the juvenile justice system at the fundamental roots of it today rather than waiting until this is upon us and having to address it when these kids are older and have committed these violent crimes they are projected to commit.
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I look forward to working with members of both subcommittees and the administration in crafting a juvenile crime bill that will meet this challenge.
I'm going to yield at this time to the gentleman from California, Mr. Riggs, and I might say to my colleagues on both of the subcommittees that it is a desire I believe Mr. Riggs and I share that we try to limit opening statements this morning to the chairman and the ranking minority member. Otherwise, we have so many members of the subcommittee, the Attorney General will be sitting here all morning. If you have a burning desire to put an opening statement in the record, please submit it for the record, but if there's any way you can restrain yourself, I'm just going to recognize the four of us and then try to let the Attorney General have her opportunity.
With that in mind, Chairman Riggs, it's a pleasure to have you together with me today and with these two great subcommittees meeting, and I yield to you.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN RIGGS
Mr. RIGGS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I do very much look forward to working with you in the coming months and with our other colleagues on both the Judiciary and Education and Workforce Committees to craft a balanced and bipartisan approach to dealing with the growing problem of juvenile crime and gang-related violence in America today.
I'm just delighted to be able to add my meager perspective as a former street cop, and that's what George told me I was. [Laughter.]
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He told me I was supposed to use the term ''cop'' and not ''law enforcement officer,'' but I'm very proud, as I shared with the Attorney General, of my almost 8 years of street experience as a police officer and deputy sheriff in California, and believe that, combined with Chairman McCollum's prosecutorial and judicial backgrounds, we make a good team in trying to, again, craft a comprehensive and balanced approach to dealing with juvenile crime prevention.
I'm just very pleased today that Attorney General Reno would accept our invitation to appear before our joint hearing to talk more about the administration's anti-gang and youth violence initiative, which of course the President announced last week, and which in turn was an outgrowth, I believe, of the Bipartisan Leadership Summit here on Capitol Hill, where juvenile justice and anti-crime measures were identified as one of five potential areas of common agreement, bipartisan cooperation and bipartisan agreement.
The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and families, which I chair, has jurisdiction over the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. This law was first enacted in 1974 in an effort to address the increase in juvenile crime during that time period. While the act has been modified many times since 1974 to address additional problems associated with juvenile delinquency, the main purpose of the act has stayed the same through the years: to assist State and local governments in their efforts to reduce juvenile crime, which, after all, is primarily a State and local problem. I don't know if the Attorney General will tell us this morning, but, obviously, most juvenile crimes, I would say the great majority, are violations of State or local law.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC During meetings with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, I have found that we have many goals and ideas with respect to efforts to reduce juvenile crime. Many of the provisions contained in the administration's draft reflect proposed changes contained in House bill 3876, the authorization bill reported out by our committee during the last Congress.
As I mentioned, I'm a former law enforcement officer, and, as such, I know firsthand that the crimes committed today bear little resemblance to the crimes committed at the time the law was first enacted. Of major concern is the fact that juvenile crime, as Chairman McCollum pointed out, has grown progressively more violent in nature.
It's my view that we must take a balanced approach to addressing juvenile crime. We must, in fact, lock up those hardened, predatory, violent juvenile offenders in an effort to protect our communities. Our first concern must at all times be public safety.
However, for the majority of juveniles, incarceration is not the answer. For this population, we must take steps to hold juveniles accountable for their actions and at the same time intervene with a variety of prevention activities to ensure that they do not participate in delinquent activities. And by that, I mean intervening early with young people at risk of coming into contact with the juvenile justice system and making a concerted effort, through close and proper supervision, to divert first-time juvenile offenders and misdemeanants out of the juvenile justice system.
It's my intention to work on this issue in a bipartisan manner and to work collaboratively with Chairman McCollum and his Judiciary Crime Subcommittee, and it's my hope that today's hearing will show us how we can best work together to achieve our common goal, General Reno, of reducing juvenile crime, particularly violent crime, and I very much look forward to your testimony and welcome you here again today.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Yes, Ma'am?
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I have an inquiry, if you would. I appreciate the courtesy to be extended to the Attorney General. Let me say that this is a burning issue for me and my constituents, and I certainly would have wanted to offer an opening statement.
Might I ask, in the time allotted for questions, are we confined to the 5-minute timeframe or will there be a second round, an opportunity to make both comments and questions?
Mr. MCCOLLUM. We would anticipate a second round, but it just depends upon the Attorney General's time and how long we've got. She's saying, yes, she's going toshe thinks so.
Attorney General RENO. I'll stay here as long as you'd like.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. She says she'll stay as long as we like. So we'll have a second round in that case.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Excellent. It's a very important issue.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. But we don't want her just to be sitting here this morning while we all make opening statements.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Well, I'm going to yield to the courtesy that you've offered and asked us to do so, but I do want to acknowledgeI'm sure I'm one among many; I'm sure there are many around the table that have as much interest as I do.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, you're welcome. I thank the gentlelady from Texas.
At this time I recognize for his opening statement the ranking member of the Crime Subcommittee, Mr. Schumer of New York.
Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for holding today's hearing and thank the Attorney General for her outstanding leadership on the crime issue.
In the past few years, we've made remarkable progress in the fight against violent crime. It's down everywhere in America. Thanks in good part to the 1994 crime bill, communities across the country have brought their crime rates down for the first time in a very long time.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But we can't be satisfied until we've broken the back of the crime problem. The fact that crime rates are at late 1970's levels of crime is better than it has been in the eighties, but we want it to go down further because the rate of crime in the 1970s was too high, too. And so to do that, I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, we have to confront the juvenile justice crisis.
Let me be clear, and I think all of us should be clear at the beginning, that the vast majority of kidsand I emphasize this is true in all neighborhoods in every corner in Americaare law-abiding and want the same decent lives that many of us have been fortunate to lead. They are struggling to produce those lives in not easy circumstances. But, of course, every objective measure shows that there is a small number of younger and younger people who are committing more and more violent crimes. The number of people arrested for violent crimes has increased by two-thirds in the past 10 years. The number of children arrested for murdermurderhas doubled in the past 10 years.
What makes these statistics so awful is that we know for a fact that someone who is already a repeat criminal offender by his 18th birthday is very likely to be a lifetime criminalboth a permanent threat to society and a permanently wasted lifeinstead of a productive citizen. These small number of young people, instead of learning their A, B, C's, are learning their uzis and AK47s and MAC10s. Instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic, they are raping and robbing and murdering. And instead of shooting baskets, they're shooting each other.
We've reached this point, quite simply, because of years of neglect. We've neglected our juvenile justice system by ignoring the fact that it cannot deal adequately with today's violent youth. Most juvenile justice laws are, in fact, simply outdated. A juvenile delinquent used to be a kid hanging out on the street corner smoking a cigarette. Today that kid's carrying a gun and is prepared to use it.
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But, equally destructiveand I think this is extremely important for us to realizewe have neglected the needs of the good kids who happen to live in bad circumstances, kids who need a path to turn to, a hand to reach out to, a safe haven secure from the storm of guns and drugs and gangs that rages around them.
And I would make a plea to my colleagues, particularly on the other side of the aisle. Many of us on this side of the aisle believe in tougher punishment in juvenile crime, but we don't want to see the other sidethe prevention, the helping hand, the need for the good kids to be given a chanceto be neglected as we move a juvenile bill through.
One example, the chairman mentioned that he had put in a bill on graduated sanctions. This is intended to deal with kids who commit a low-level crime, to give them a sanction that doesn't throw away the key and lock them up, but is punishment and helps them go in a proper direction. Well, we put that in the 1994 crime bill. It was supported in a bipartisan way. And yet when the 1995 Congress came in, they didn't fund it for a nickel. We can put in all the bills we want that are modeled on programs that work, that help kids, but if we don't fund them, we're just fooling the public. And I hope we will do that together, both on the punishment side and on the prevention side. Any real solution to the juvenile crime problem must be, as was said before, balanced. We have to be both tough and smart.
And, Madam Attorney General, I want to commend you and the administration for putting together a proposal that is balanced. As you know, I've introduced the administration's proposal in legislative form. It's a long bill. We obviously have to work our way through the details, but it is certainly the most comprehensive and promising juvenile justice reform package on the table, and I hope we can use it as a basis for negotiations as we move forward.
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And one final point before yielding: I'm convinced, along with punishment and prevention, there's a third component that must be truly part of a comprehensive plan to reduce youth violence, and that, my colleagues, is gun control. What has fueled the rapid escalation of gang violence, in my judgment, more than anything else is the growth of an underground market in firearms. Just as Ali Abu Kamal walked into a gun store in Melbourne, Florida and walked out with the weapon he used to gun down seven people on the top of the Empire State Building, every day gun runners buy firearms in States that have less restrictive gun laws and bring them into States like mine. Ninety-eight percent of the guns that kids use in crime in New York City are not sold in New York City; they're sold in another State and they're transported by gun runners, and we in this Congress do nothing to stop it, even though it would not impinge one iota on the legitimate rights of gun owners throughout America.
So it's my hope that we'll do something in this area, too. I'll be introducing legislation to require all gun purchasers to have a nationally-standardized residency card issued only after a thorough background check that would include verification of residency and ageno more, no less than we do for people who want to drive a car, and it hasn't impinged on people's rights to drive a car. This law might have stopped Mr. Kamal, and it will weed out gun smugglers who use phony ID cards to evade the current system for checking criminal records.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, it's my hope that juvenile crime legislation that we eventually pass will not ignore this crucial aspect of the problem. And, again, I thank you for holding the hearing.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Schumer.
Mr. Martinez, you're recognized.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and, again, like Mr. Schumer, I thank you for holding these hearings and thank you for inviting Janet Reno to testify here today, the Attorney General who probably knows as much about juvenile justice as anyone.
I was in Florida some time ago with a group of law enforcement officers when her name was put up for nomination to the Attorney General spot, and every single one of the police officers there spoke well of her and of her reputation in juvenile justice.
I'm honored here to sit here with so many people on this dais who know so much about juvenile justice and juvenile crime and how the minds of those individuals work who live in those neighborhoods. I'm reminded of a situation where I was visiting the Job Corps in Los Angeles, and was being given a tour by a young man who I asked if he happened to be one of the dropouts, and his response to me was, ''I wasn't a dropout; I was a force-out.''
And I said, ''Excuse me? You'll have to explain that to me.''
And he said, ''Well, certainly. My life situation forced me out of the mainstream of society into a world of drugs and crime and disruptive behavior.''
And, yet, this young man was in Job Corps trying to make something of his life. Upon graduation, he was going to join the Marine Corps, and then go to a helicopter school to learn to fly or repair helicopters. He was certain that when he got out, he would have a fine job and he would be able to take care of himself and his family.
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He said the reason he considered himself a force-out was because his life was a difficult life. He had a single mother who had a live-in boyfriend who beat her and the kids. He had no solace there or no counsel there, and he took to the streets. And before that, the actions in his home caused him to be disruptive in school, and the school never learned to deal with these kinds of children, and they haven't learned to deal with these kinds of children yet. Their response to these children is: stick them in a jail somewhere.
I know there are going to be a lot of people here who are going to be strong on punishment. I want to be strong on alternative actions because I can show you case after case where young people have had alternatives, or they've been reached early enough in life to be taught better behavioral habits, and they don't end up in the streets and they don't end up in jail, and they don't end up committing these violent crimes. But if we concentrate totally on punishment, we will not address the problem. To those who say that an 18-year-old who's reached the point of committing violence, or who has sustained violent behavior up until that point, is worthless and is going to be a professional criminal for the rest of his life, I've got news for you; I can show you dozens and dozens of people like that, maybe hundreds of thousands of people like that, who ended up being very useful human beings because they were given an alternative. The whole thing boils down to giving people alternatives and giving them alternatives early enough.
I guess I understand where a lot of these young people come from because at one time I was one of the gang members in the neighborhood. Then, all gangs were different. Of course, the difference now and then was there wasn't the abundance of weapons, as Mr. Schumer has outlined, and there wasn't the abundance of drugs as there is now. And there wasn't the stress and strain on individuals to be somebody or something that caused them to want to find an identity in a gang, because they're not something at home and they're not something at school.
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But those are problems that have been created because we have not learned to deal with the situation in those institutions that we have. If it's not the home, it's got to be the school. If it's not the school, it's got to be the church. But somewhere it must happen. Let me remind you all that there are a lot of organizations who are doing wonderful work for young people. The Boys and Girls Club in my local community took what was going to be one of the bad gangs of the neighborhood and turned it into a nonexistent gang by taking the very young people, and involving them in things that were alternatives to drugs, crime, and violence. Now there is no more Poor Side Gang. Yet, the Lomas and the Songalas gangs still exist because they were started very early, and generation after generation continued in those gangs and they got to be worse and worse. But in those areas where these gangs are there were no Boys and Girls Club to take the place of the negative things they were doing.
So I want to caution you all that there are a lot of good organizations out there, and I think Mr. Schumer alluded to them, that need funding. If these organizations can't get the funding to do the work in the neighborhoods, then they're not going to be able to turn these people's lives around. And we are talking about people, young people, who have every right in this country, a country of such abundance, to live a better life, as Mr. McCollum mentioned, a better life than what they're leading now.
And we, for once, maybe can do something about it, especially with the proposal from the administration. I'm eager to hear more about that proposal. I'm glad that Mr. Schumer has introduced it. I think that we need to work together in a bipartisan way and with the communitiesthe schools, law enforcement, and the parents. All of those people need to be involved in rectifying this problem that we have.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Martinez.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Conyers.
Mr. CONYERS. Thank you and good morning. As the senior member of this committee, I would not need, nor like, 5 minutes, but I would like to greet the Attorney General.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. You certainly may do so, Mr. Conyers. I'll make an exception because of your senior presence, and so forth, to our general rule of not wanting further opening statements.
Mr. GEKAS. Will I be permitted to greet Mr. Conyers? [Laughter.]
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Gekas, you can greet him every day, but the Attorney General isn't up here every day.
Mr. Conyers, please greet the Attorney General.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CONYERS. Well, I want to welcome Janet Reno again to this hearing room, and I want to do it in a sense of praising her for the good work that she has done in the course of her career here in Washington. She is the first woman Attorney General in our history. She has worked diligently on all fronts, large and small. She's toured this country tirelessly, working at local and city levels to meet the police and the citizens right down on the streets to find out what's going on. And so I am pleased to have her here today.
I note that we have now an administration bill. We will have shortly a Schumer bill. We have a McCollum bill. I am advised that the Minority Leader of the House will soon make it a Gephardt bill. Mr. Scott of Virginia is contemplating as we sit whether there shall be a Scott bill.
And all I want to say to all of us here as we begin this discussion today with the top law enforcement officer is that let's be very careful about mixing kids with adults in prison. Let us move very, very carefully into this area. There has been a little study. It's a trend that we should watch with great care and concern, and it's something that I'd like to put on your hearts and minds as we begin this discussion today.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Conyers, and it's only suitable that I follow on with the introduction and welcome formally, I guess, the Attorney General before us today.
Attorney General Reno was first sworn in as the Nation's 78th Attorney General by President Clinton on March the 21, 1993. From 1978 to the time of her appointment, Ms. Reno served as the State's attorney for Dade County, Florida, my home State. She was initially appointed to the position by the governor of Florida and was subsequently elected to that office five times. Ms. Reno was a partner in the Miami-based law firm of Steele, Hector, and Davis from 1976 to 1978. Before that, she served as assistant State's attorney and as the staff director of the Florida house of representatives judiciary committee, after starting her legal career in private practice.
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Ms. Reno was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she attended Dade County public schools. She received a B.A. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1960 and her L.L.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1963.
Attorney General Reno, I remember when you and I first served together on a Florida Bar committee on penal reform years ago. You were my chairman. Now I guess I'm sitting as chairman, and you're my Attorney General. So it's kind of a nice relationship, and we're delighted you're here today, appreciate your being a witness.
I know from my past relationship with you how important you value the issue of juvenile justice and juvenile crime and what we can do to try to prevent it. So you may proceed as you wish with your statement.
The microphone is not on there, Attorney General Reno. One switch ought to put itthere we go. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
Ms. RENO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Riggs, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Martinez, Mr. Conyers. I really appreciate this opportunity to be here with you today. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss and testify on the problem of youth violence because, as Chairman McCollum points out, this has been an issue of vital concern to me.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It was about 4 years next month that I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee at my confirmation hearing. At that time, I described youth violence as probably one of the greatest single crime problems in America.
Congressman Schumer, I appreciate your introducing the Administration's bill, now known as H.R. 810, and I just am so encouraged by the comments made today. Chairman McCollum, we really can do something. We can have an impact if we work together. I will spend all the time that's necessary, here today. I will come visit with you, answer questions, and try to provide information. I think working together in a bipartisan way, we can construct a bill that can truly make a difference for the youth of America. And I pledge to you all my efforts, in every way I can, to come up with a sound, solid, balanced bipartisan bill that looks at tough punishment that fits the crime, that's fair, but also looks at what we can do to give all the young people of America an opportunity to have a very strong, very positive future.
The reason I think we can make a difference is I think, that working together, we have made a difference in these 4 years. We've set out and we've had some differences along the way, but I've had the opportunity to work with you. We've had the opportunity to work with Republican mayors and Republican prosecutors; we've worked together in communities, and we are truly seeing difference being made in the crime rate.
We set out to reverse the rising tide of violent crime with a comprehensive strategy: more police, community policing, tough punishment that fits the crime, and prevention. Our strategy is working. Last year the national violent crime rate dropped for the fifth year in a row, marking the longest period of decline in 25 years. Moreover, for the first time in nearly a decade, both the juvenile violent crime rate and the murder arrest rates went down. While these signs are certainly promising, juvenile crime rates are still, as everyone has pointed out and acknowledged, unacceptably high in many cities, towns, and neighborhoods across America.
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Further, juvenile crime may become more severe because of the expected increase in the population of children ages 10 to 17 over the next 20 years. We canand, indeed, we mustdo more.
In his State-of-the-Union Address, President Clinton called for a full-scale assault on juvenile crime. I was so happy when I picked up the papers and found that Republican and Democratic leaders were all coming together indicating that a bipartisan approach to fighting juvenile crime could be reached.
Mr. Riggs, you talked about remembering that juvenile justice is really primarily a State and local issue, and I think that's going to be so important for us to recall as we deal with this issue. Having come from a local background in prosecution, I set out to try to build a partnership with police, with mayors, with prosecutors across the country, listening to them and finding out what they thought they needed to get the job, recognizing that it may vary from a rural county in the western panhandle of Florida, Mr. Chairman, to urban city in an urban neighborhood. And it is just so exciting to hear what communities across this country are doing in a bipartisan way to effect this issue. But what is more exciting is the possibilities that this legislation and the comments made today indicate for resources for the future that can enhance what people are doing in their communities.
The President's legislation offers a balanced approach. We know that there are serious and violent juveniles on the street right now, and tough action must be taken. Mr. Riggs, I'm sure you heard some kids say, ''Hey, man, nothing's going to happen to me. Nothing ever happens to you in the juvenile justice system.'' We've got to let people know that there is a fair, firm punishment for every crime, and one that fits the crime.
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And at the same time, we must address what Congressman Martinez talked about in terms of the young people who, if given half a fighting chance in their youth, can grow in a strong and positive way. Prevention and early intervention initiatives are absolutely critical to our long-term successful in reducing juvenile crime, especially when these efforts target the younger children. We sometimes wait until they get into trouble, but I used to pick up a pre-sentence investigation report and see more points along the way that I could have intervened and prevented problems for this child during the course of his life. And if we can fashion something that focuses on that effort as well, I think it will be so important.
By getting and keeping children on the track to early success, they are substantially less likely to break the law as teens and adults. The Administration's legislation meets this challenge by proposing new laws and new resources to target gangs, gun crimes, illegal gun markets, and drugs. In addition, the bill invests substantial new resources in anti-truancy, school violence, and other similar initiatives aimed at getting or keeping young people on the track to success and to a positive future.
Finally, the legislation redesigns and refocuses the way in which the Federal Government provides support for State and local efforts to fight juvenile crime. Enactment of H.R. 810, which is described in detail in the section-by-section analysis, would play a key role in implementing the administration's anti-gang and youth violence strategy. In my remaining time with you today, I would like to highlight the key provisions of this legislation.
First, our message to dangerous gang members and other criminals is clear: your punishment for threatening our safety and selling guns and drugs to our children will be swift and certain. During the last 4 years, Federal prosecutors, working with their colleagues at the State and local level, have mounted an unprecedented crackdown on violent street gangs. Prosecution of gangs under the powerful RICO statute have more than doubled, and thousands of gang members have been sent to prison under other violent crime and drug statutes.
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Building upon these successes, the legislation proposes new prosecutorial tools and increased penalties to target violent gang activity, the illegal gun markets where gangs get their weapons, and serious drug crimes. The bill also includes provisions that will help prevent witness intimidation, a far too common tactic that gang members employ to avoid prosecutions.
Finally, our proposal gives Federal prosecutors the discretion to transfer juveniles to adult criminal court. Under this provision, except for the most serious juvenile offender over age 16, juveniles charged as adults may petition the court to be tried as a juvenile rather than as an adult.
The legislation also provides new resources to help State and local law enforcement target gangs and violent juveniles. Under our gang prosecution initiative, $200 million will be available over 2 years for new local prosecutors and anti-gang initiatives designed to pursue, prosecute, and punish dangerous gang members for their crimes.
Further, the bill provides $50 million to fund a youth violence courts initiative. These grants will provide new resources for specialized court-based programs, like juvenile gun courts and drug courts, to more effectively handle violent youthful offenders as they proceed through the justice system.
We must continue to develop a range of specialized strategies to respond to and to prevent youth violence. There is perhaps no greater contributor to youth violence than the combination of kids and guns. Since its enactment, the Brady law has kept more than 186,000 fugitives, felons, and other prohibited persons from purchasing a handgun. The law works. It keeps guns out of the hands of adults convicted of serious crimes.
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Unfortunately, under current law, a juvenile tried and convicted as a juvenile for a serious violent crime could legally purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer on or after his or her 21st birthday and from casual sellers after turning 18. Our legislation closes this loophole, so that violent youth cannot buy or possess a gun unless their gun rights have been restored.
In addition, while many firearm deaths result from violent crime, gun accidents regularly claim the lives of America's youth. The statistics paint a tragic picture. Firearms are the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths among young children ages 5 to 14. H.R. 810 addresses this problem by requiring gun dealers to sell a locking device with every handgun. Properly used, safety-locking devices can decrease the unauthorized use of handguns by a child at play or a teen who wants to commit a crime, and a locked gun is worthless to a thief.
Clearly, we must deal today with the young people who are involved in gangs, guns, and drugs, but if we want to have fewer troubled and dangerous young people in the future, we must invest in the future for our children now. Keeping our young people in school is an important step toward keeping them out of trouble. Once children leave the schoolhouse door, they are often vulnerable to dangerous influences. On school days, 51 percent of the violent crime committed by juveniles occurs between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and young people who skip school often become involved in crime and drugs.
Under H.R. 810, $75 million will be made available for the At-Risk Children Initiative, which will help communities establish anti-truancy, school violence, and other similar initiatives aimed at getting or keeping high-risk juveniles on the track to success. Children need to be held accountable for their actions when they break the law. At the same time, we need to give them the support and the opportunity to get back on the path to success.
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In addition, the administration strategy calls for approximately $62 million for 1,000 new after-school initiatives, for schools to stay open after the school day ends, on weekends, and in the summer. By allowing schools to stay open longer, they can become community learning centers providing students, parents, and communities with access to valuable resources. This initiative, which is funded and administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and therefore not part of H.R. 810, is an important part of the administration's effort to fight juvenile crime.
Finally, H.R. 810 creates a new Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice. This new office replaces the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In designing this office, our goal has been to respond to the changing nature of juvenile crime, to increase flexibility for State and local governments, and to be more focused, more efficient, and more effective in our support of State and local prevention and enforcement efforts. Operations within this new office have been streamlined to better coordinate and integrate juvenile crime initiatives with other Department of Justice activities, particularly activities within the Office of Justice Programs, the National Institute of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Finally, fundamental protections safeguarding juveniles from abuse while in custody have been maintained, while recognizing, as we did in our recent regulatory changes, the need for more local flexibility.
While there are many important changes that will result from the redesign of this office, I want to highlight one new effort that is especially important. I believe, as do many of you, that better research, better analysis, and program evaluations are critical to understanding and addressing youth crime. We must ensure that scarce Federal resources are used to support effective programs. To make sure this happens, 10 percent of all grant program funds will be dedicated to these critical research activities. General research funding is also increased. The Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention will initiate research activities and the nationally-respected Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice will manage the research, statistics, and evaluation projects. This arrangement will guarantee that our research on juvenile crime is coordinated and of the highest quality. As we learn more about what works in fighting juvenile crime, we will be better able to help communities implement effective initiatives that reduce, prevent, and control juvenile crime.
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Mr. Chairman, I have attempted to describe for the subcommittees what the administration believes to be the appropriate and necessary role of the Federal Government in assisting State and local governments in dealing with youth violence. I very much appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Reno follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
Good morning Chairman McCollum, Chairman Riggs, and Members of the two subcommittees. It is a pleasure to appear before you today, and I want to thank you for giving the Department of Justice the opportunity to testify on the problem of youth violence in America and on the Administration's legislative proposal to combat this problem. Before I begin, I would like to thank Congressman Schumer for introducing the Administration's bill, now known as H.R. 810, ''The Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Act of 1997.'' I look forward to working with him and the Members of both subcommittees on this issue.
Four years ago, this Administration set out to reverse the rising tide of violent crime with a comprehensive strategy: more police, tougher punishment, and smarter crime prevention. Our strategy is working. Last year, the national violent crime rate dropped for the fifth year in a row, marking the longest period of decline in 25 years. Moreover, for the first time in nearly a decade, the juvenile violent crime and murder arrest rates went down. While these signs are certainly promising, juvenile crime rates are still unacceptably high in many cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Further, juvenile crime may become more severe because of the expected increase in the population of children ages 10 to 17 over the next twenty years. We canand indeed mustdo more.
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In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton called for a full-scale assault on juvenile crime. I am pleased that following his address, the President and Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress indicated that a bipartisan approach to fighting juvenile crime could be reached. Youth violence is a problem affecting us all, and the American people do not want politics to stand in the way of public safety. Together, we must give communities the tools they need to take back their streets and schools, and to reestablish a sense of security in our country.
III. OVERVIEW OF THE LEGISLATION
The President's legislation, H.R. 810, ''The Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Act of 1997,'' offers a balanced approach to fighting juvenile crimeone that is both tough and smart, reflecting the importance of punishment and prevention. We know that there are serious and violent juveniles on the street right now, and tough action must be taken against these offenders to protect public safety. At the same timeand as every law enforcement officer will tell youprevention and early intervention initiatives are critical to our long-term success in reducing juvenile crime, especially when these efforts target younger children. By getting and keeping children on the track to success early in life, they are substantially less likely to break the law as teens or adults.
The legislation meets this challenge by proposing new laws and new resources to target gangs, gun crimes, illegal gun markets, and drugs. In addition, the bill invests substantial new resources in anti-truancy, school violence, and other similar initiatives aimed at getting or keeping young people on the track to success. Finally, the legislation redesigns and refocuses the way in which the federal government provides support for state and local efforts to fight juvenile crime. Enactment of H.R. 810, which is described in detail in the section-by-section analysis, would play a key role in implementing the Administration's anti-gang and youth violence strategy. In my remaining time with you today, I would like to highlight the key provisions of this legislation.
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IV. TARGETING VIOLENT GANGS, GUNS AND DRUG CRIMES
First, our message to dangerous gang members and other criminals is clear: your punishment for threatening our safety and selling drugs and guns to our children will be swift and certain. During the last 4 years, Federal prosecutors, working with their colleagues at the state and local level, have mounted an unprecedented crackdown on violent street gangs. Prosecutions of gangs under the powerful RICO statute have more than doubled, and thousands of gang members have been sent to prison under other violent crime and drug statutes.
Building upon these successes, the legislation proposes new prosecutorial tools and increased penalties to target violent gang activity, the illegal gun markets where gangs get their weapons, and serious drug crimes. The bill also includes provisions that will help prevent witness intimidation, a far too common tactic that gang members employ to avoid prosecutions. Finally, our proposal gives federal prosecutors the discretion to transfer juveniles to adult criminal court. Under this provision, except for the most serious juvenile offenders over age 16, juveniles charged as adults may petition the court to be tried as a juvenile rather than as an adult.
The legislation also provides new resources to help states and localities target gangs and violent juveniles. Under our Gang Prosecutors Initiative, $200 million will be available over 2 years for new local prosecutors and anti-gang initiatives designed to pursue, prosecute, and punish dangerous gang members for their crimes. Further, the bill provides $50 million to fund a ''Youth Violence Courts'' initiative. These grants will provide new resources for specialized, court-based programslike juvenile gun and drug courtsto more effectively handle violent youthful offenders as they proceed through the justice system. We must continue to develop a range of specialized strategies to respond to and prevent youth violence.
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V. KEEPING OUR CHILDREN SAFE FROM GUNS
There is perhaps no greater contributor to youth violence than the combination of kids and guns. Since its enactment, the Brady Law has kept more than 175,000 fugitives, felons and other prohibited persons from purchasing a handgun. The law worksit keeps guns out of the hands of adults convicted of serious crimes. Unfortunately, under current law, a juvenile tried and convicted as a juvenile for a serious violent crime could legally purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer on or after his or her 21st birthday and from casual sellers, after turning 18. Our legislation closes this loophole so that violent youth cannot buy or possess a handgun unless their gun rights have been restored.
In addition, while many firearms deaths result from violent crime, gun accidents regularly claim the lives of America's youth. The statistics paint a tragic picture: firearms are the fourth leading cause of accidental deaths among young children ages 5 to 14. H.R. 810 addresses this problem by requiring gun dealers to sell a locking device with every handgun. Properly used, safety locking devices can decrease the unauthorized use of handgunsby a child at play or a teen who wants to commit a crime. And, a locked gun is worthless to a thief.
VI. KEEPING OUR CHILDREN ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Clearly, we must deal, today, with the young people who are involved in gangs, guns, and drugs. But if we want to have fewer troubled and dangerous young people in the future, we must invest in the future now. Keeping our young people in school is an important step toward keeping them out of trouble. Once children leave the schoolhouse door, they are often vulnerable to dangerous influences. On school days, 51 percent of the violent crime committed by juveniles occurs between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and young people who skip school often become involved in crime and drugs.
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Under H.R. 810, $75 million will be available for the ''At-Risk Children Initiative,'' which will help communities establish anti-truancy, school violence and other, similar initiatives aimed at getting or keeping high risk juveniles on the track to success. Children need to be held accountable for their actions when they break the law. At the same time, we need to give them the support and opportunity to get back on the path to success.
In addition, the Administration's strategy calls for approximately $62 million for 1,000 new after-school initiatives for schools to stay open after the school day ends, on weekends, and in the summer. By allowing schools to stay open longer, they can become community learning centers, providing students, parents and communities with access to valuable resources. This initiative, which is funded and administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and therefore not part of H.R. 810, is an important part of the Administration's effort to fight juvenile crime.
VII. NEW OFFICE OF JUVENILE CRIME CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Finally, H.R. 810 creates a new Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice. This new office replaces the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In designing this office, our goal has been to respond to the changing nature of juvenile crime, to increase flexibility for state and local governments, and to be more focused, more efficient, and more effective in our support of state and local prevention and enforcement efforts. Operations within this new office have been streamlined to better coordinate and integrate juvenile crime initiatives with other Department of Justice activitiesparticularly activities within the Office of Justice Programs, the National Institute of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Finally, fundamental protections safeguarding juveniles from abuse while in custody have been maintained, while recognizing, as we did in our recent regulatory changes, the need for more local flexibility.
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While there are many important changes that result from the redesign of this office, I want to highlight one new effort that is especially important. I believe, as do many of you, that better research, statistical analysis, and program evaluations are critical to understanding and addressing youth crime. We must ensure that scarce federal resources are used only to support effective programs. To make sure this happens, 10 percent of all grant program funds will be dedicated to these critical research activities. General research funding is also increased. The Office of Juvenile Crime Control and Prevention will initiate research activities, and the nationally-respected Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice will manage the research, statistics, and evaluation projects. This arrangement will guarantee that our research on juvenile crime is coordinated and of the highest quality. And, as we learn more about what works in fighting juvenile crime, we will be better able to help communities implement effective initiatives that reduce, prevent, and control juvenile crime.
Mr. Chairmen, I've attempted to describe for the subcommittees what the Administration believes to be the appropriate and necessary role of the federal government in assisting state and local governments in dealing with youth violence. At this time, I would be pleased to answer any questions the joint subcommittee has regarding the Administration's proposed legislation.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, thank you very much for being here.
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I'll recognize myself for 5 minutes, and then we'll go from there.
Attorney General Reno, I've heard a lot of discussion about the fact that the crime rates in this country, particularly the violent crime rates, have dropped over the last 4 years, and they have statistically; there's no question about that. But the studies I've also seen, and some of the studies coming out of the Justice Department corroborate this, show that some crime rates in this country haven't really dropped that much by comparison, and that is including the violent crime rate in particular. The study I'm particularly referring to says that last year there were four times as many violent crimes committed in this country per capita as they were in 1960. In 1960, there were 160 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in our population, and last year there were 685 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in our population. To me, and I suspect to most people, that means that it's four times more likely, when you go down to the 711 at night to get your carton of milk, that you're going to be raped or robbed or mugged or shot, or something.
And my question to open this hearing is simply this to you: even though we are seeing the marginal improvement of our violent crime ratesI think the number's down from like 740 for every 100,000 to 685 over the last 4 yearswe're nowhere near, in my judgment, where we need to be. Our society shouldn't be feeling secure that we've suddenly cracked and solved the violent crime problem.
And I wanted to ask you if you share my concern that in some quarters we're lulled into a false sense because the trendline looks good, as if we suddenly have conquered this problem, when in reality it is, indeed, still a very serious matter, and of course juvenile violent crime is at the top of that list. But do you concur, based on the statistics you've seen, that while we've made some improvements, that, indeed, we are far from where we need to be in terms of reigning in violent crime in this country?
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Ms. RENO. Mr. Chairman, as I've said, we've done much, but we have much more to do. That's the reason I'm here today. My personal opinion is one crime is one crime too many.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, Madam Attorney General, when I was a kidyou and I talked about it when we served together in various capacities. I go back even further than that, and I remember when a juvenile threw a rock through a store window or ripped off a hubcap. In my hometown, he was going to go before a juvenile judge. Now that didn't mean he was going to go to the detention center. It meant he or she was going to go before a juvenile judge. That judge would probably have admonished that child, maybe given them some community service, maybe sent them back under some supervision, but scared the heck out of that kid.
The juvenile judges I met with yesterday confirmed the same thing I'm hearing around the country in these meetings I held last year, and that is that it is a rare community today where law enforcement authorities even bring a juvenile before a juvenile court for throwing a rock through a storefront window or ripping a hubcap off. And when they do, it may be multiple times and appearances before the court before any sanctionI'm not talking about detention, but any sanctionis given.
In the bill you've sent up to us today with respect to the Office of Juvenile Justice, there are some grant programs. And in the incentives for those grant programs there is a requirement that States proceed in a certain fashion to qualify for these grants to have sanctions from the very first delinquent act. In the bill I introduced, which is not the same as what you've set up, I suggest we do the same for the limited number of juvenile cases we see in the Federal system. And you have recommended changes in the Federal juvenile justice system, but I don't see that particular recommendation in there.
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Do you believe that we should have graduated sanctions from the very first delinquent act for every juvenile, whether that's in the Federal system or in a State system?
Ms. RENO. I think it is important for each system to fashion an appropriate system of graduated sanctions, and it's going to depend really on the jurisdiction. In some instances the sanction is going to be for the first thumb-your-nose at a police officer. The police officer may be a community police officer who knows how to take the best first step. And the next step may be to the court.
But I think it is important that there be two parts to the processes. One, there should be a fair, firm sanction that fits the crime from the beginning. Secondly, there should be an attempt to find out why the crime was committed in the first place. If the kid to whom you refer threw a rock through the window, I would like to see us have the capacity to intervene and find out whether that kid is being supervised at home, and what the circumstances are at home. That way, we can take steps not only to say you're punished, but to say, ''Here's how we can help you get off to a fresh start.'' If he comes back into the system, I think he should expect a more serious punishment.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. And you would concur that should be done both at the Federal and the State level?
Ms. RENO. I think in each instance it is important that the youngster understand that there is going to be an appropriate sanction and that at each instance the system takes steps to find out what caused it in the first place and see if we can divert him from the problem.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, General Reno.
I will recognize the Chairman Riggs for 5 minutes. Well, perhaps the other way, whichever way you want to do thisI think I'm going to do Mr. Riggs first. That'swe'll set a precedent here; we'll go kind of two and two back and forth between the subcommittees that way. It may work better that way.
Mr. Riggs, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. RIGGS. Attorney General Reno, thank you again for your testimony, and I want to commend you and the administration for coming to the table with a solid proposal, one that certainly is worthy of due consideration and debate in the Congress.
I particularly want to commend your emphasis on gangs and gang-related violence. Just last week in my home community of Windsor, Sonoma County, we held a subcommittee field hearing on gang violence and anti-gang programs and efforts. We heard from law enforcement, as well as some community-based programs that had been effective in combatting gangorganized criminal activity by gangs in Sonoma County, and I was delighted to welcome to our home community, to my home community, Bobby Scott and Marty Martinez, who were kind enough to come out and participate in that field hearing and make very constructive contributions to that dialog.
However, I want them to know that immediately after we concluded that field hearing, which was last Thursday morning, which ran into the early afternoon, there was a flurry of gang attacks in the immediate area, and I quote from the local newspaper, The Press Democrat:
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''Escalating violence on Santa Rosa streets in Sonoma County, much of it gang-related, has resulted in seven teenagers shot, four stabbed, and at least six others beaten in four separate incidents that began Thursday afternoon''almost coinciding with the end of our subcommittee field hearing''with a fight and continued with up to three retaliatory attacks throughout the weekend.''
And I am very concerned that we address this growing and insidious problem of gang violence in our society. I'm very concerned, and one of the things we talked about in our hearing was the fact that there is almost a subrosa gang culture that has permeated our society. It is affecting a lot of our young people, their mannerisms, the way they dress. I'm concerned that gang activity has been stylized and even glamorized to an extent in our society. So I think it's high time that we recognize the problem of gangs and attack that problem on a very aggressive basis at all levels of government.
Now I want to switch for just a moment and ask you a couple of very specific questions. Everybody wants to take a get-tough approach in the various competing proposals that have been introduced, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Democrats, House Republicans, the administrationeverybody wants to take a get-tough approach with juvenile offenders. My concern, General Reno, is whether weand this probably is not the right phrase to usebut whether we have more will than wallet. My concern is one of resources.
We were out in California in San Diego County; Duke Cunningham's district last year had a field hearing on the JJDP reauthorization. We heard from the presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court that there are not enough resources presently for close supervised probation of juvenile offenders.
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And it goes back to what Chairman McCollum was asking, and that is, we want kids to know that there are real consequences for their actions. We want graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, but yet we're releasing back into the community so many of these young people without, again, close and proper supervision. So I guess my question is: do you recognize that problem in the community, No. 1? And, No. 2, do we have a need for more resources if we're going to take this get-tough approach? That is to say, do we need more resources not just for supervised probation, but for more detention space, more juvenile courts, more juvenile court judges, more juvenile prosecutors, more juvenile defenders, more juvenile probation officers? How severe is this problem, and what do we do to marshall these resources while at the same time recognizing this is a State and local problem and trying to drive these resources down to the local level, so communities will have the maximum flexibility to use these problems in a fashion that best addresses those local problems?
Ms. RENO. Yes to all your questions. [Laughter.]
Mr. RIGGS. Yes, it is kind of a broad one.
Ms. RENO. First of all, what we have tried to do with respect to gangs is to recognize the fact that it is primarily a State and local problem. For example, we have, in our Anti-Violence Initiative, gone to local prosecutors and said, ''How can we help?'' We have been able to exchange information and to make sure that there was a two-way street of information going both ways, from the Federal to the State, and vice versa. We have, through this comprehensive effort, through this partnership, had some dramatic impacts in communities where we have joined together and focused on such gang violence.
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With respect to detention facilities, one of the things that I feel strongly about is that the prison money that has been made available should be made available for youth offender detention programs that are appropriate, including programs for serious youthful offenders, facilities for serious youthful offenders that provide for appropriate security. So I think that that is a point that is very important to make.
At the same time, as we increase the number of community police officers across America, prosecutors and judges were saying, you're creating overload at the front end of the system. What is the prosecutor going to do? What is the court going to do? And as juvenile court judges have told you, so have they told me, ''I don't have anything to do with this kid.'' There's just totally inadequate resources.
For that reason, we have provided $100 million in this legislation for prosecutors to develop initiatives that may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A prosecutor may decide to have a system focused on violent offenders with a probation officer assigned to ensure compliance with the offenders in the program for those appropriately on probation. We provide $50 million for a youth violence initiative with the courts, so that they can show what can be done when courts have the resources necessary to really focus on the issue.
And I feel so strongly that we can, going back to Chairman McCollum's point, I really think we can make a difference because last week I was in Boston. It's my third trip there because I've been so impressed with what they're doing. Here is a Democratic U.S. attorney and a Republican DA working together, focused on the dangerous offenders, sending the message out through Federal agents and local law enforcement: you are going to face a punishment.
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Boston uses probation officers riding with community police officers and making home visits to make sure that that offender who's arrested for the first time is at the house where he belongs at 10 o'clock. They have been able to do some of this through initiatives from the Department of Justice, and if we can spread this through the legislation we develop together across the country, I think we can truly show what a difference can be made if we give the people in the system the resources necessary to do the job.
At the same time, in Boston and in other places, as they are getting touch on the gang leaders, they are also reaching out to the young people that think they might like to get involved in the stylized world of gangs, and they're making a difference and providing them opportunities in the afternoon and the evening for other more constructive approaches. That's the reason the provision with the Departments of Education and HHS is so important for after-school initiatives that can give young people something to belong to that's not a gang.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Chairman Riggs, and thank you, General Reno.
Mr. Schumer, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Madam Attorney General, and, look, I'm at one with you on your views, and I was proud to introduce the administration's bill.
A lot of this, both on the get-tough and prevention side, deals with resources, and I guess my great disappointment in the 1994 crime bill was not what was in it, but in the next year we had hoped to fund a lot of it, and we didn't. That really laid the groundwork for this bill and what everyone's talking about here, which is both tough on punishment and smart on prevention.
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How are we going to get these resources? That's the problem. That's a bipartisan problem, too, because we have an administration that has to watch its budget. We have a Congress that has to watch its budget. But if we don't have resources to do this, it's not going to happen.
I mean, my problem in my city with probation officers is not that they're not good, but they have 75 or 80 cases assigned to them, and you can't get graduated sanctions, for instance, the kid is supposed to know that the minute the lower sanction is violated, he steps up to the higher sanctionbut without an adequate number of probation officers it just doesn't get implemented properly.
So what can we all do togetherand we are both authorization committees, not appropriation committeesto prevent, when the Appropriation Committees meet, both the prevention side and the punishment side from being squeezed out of the budget?
Ms. RENO. I think the spirit here today that I have heard from the two chairmen, and the whole approach gives us hope that resources will be available. As I have traveled across this country, community after community recognizes that we have got to do something about this in order to ensure our safety, to provide a workforce for the future, and I think there is a consensus that has been built across America.
What they want to know is the answer to Mr. McCollum's question: can we make difference? Yes, we can. And they're willing to fund programs that make a difference. That's why we're trying to highlight areas where the communities have come together with Federal grants, with local initiatives, by using people the smart way. If you take a community police officer and a community probation officer and link them together, you make their effort much more effective. If you focus a community probation officer in one neighborhood where he's known and respected rather than all across the town, you make his work more effective.
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If you focus on what Congressman McCollum was saying in terms of we can't wait for the crisis to occur, we can't wait to let the kid come in once and twice and three times, and then by that time trying to recover him is too costly. Let's make the investment upfront in appropriate sanctions and in appropriate prevention programs.
And my message is I think we have example across this countrysome large, some smallof programs that are working with carefully-placed Federal grants that meet the needs of that community, that focus on the hole that that community can't fill or that that State can't fill. And if we craft this the right way, I think we can use the Federal dollars that are available in the smartest way possible and make a difference.
Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think that's a great answer. I hope we follow through on it.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Schumer.
Mr. Martinez, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. MARTINEZ. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have 5 minutes?
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Five minutes.
Mr. MARTINEZ. I want to take just a couple of minutes and then I want to yield to Bobby Scott because he can illustrate better what I'm going to say here.
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Madam Attorney General, you have probably seen the study that was done, ''Diverting Children from a Life of Crime: At What Cost and Benefit?'' If you have not, I will furnish it for you.
But in there they talk about the three strikes law that was just passed, and it says that the crime reduction achievable through the three strikes law, like California's, is indeed substantial, but 80 percent of the serious crime remains.
The study indicates that crime could be reduced further with parent training, graduation incentives, and supervision of delinquents. Given California's vote in favor of the three strikes law, the public may believe that a 21 percent reduction is worth the $5.5 billion a year. But for less than thatfor just a billion dollarsgraduation incentives and parent training could roughly double that crime reduction. In other words, prevention works better than what we're trying to do when we try to get tough with the law.
In the hearing that we had in Santa Rosa with Chairman Riggs, a probation officer testified about what his caseload was and how much time he could actually spend supervising or monitoring or counseling these young people under his charge. It was absolutely nil really. And that leads me to believe there have to be other alternatives than that probation officer, even if you provide a lot of money for a lot more probation officers.
The graduated sanctions, which are referred to in your proposal, are important, and this study shows it. It shows the need for intervention with the sanction. Intervention must take into account the problems may originate in the home, as well as in the streets the young man lives in. We need to do something about all those things if the sanction's going to have any effect at all; otherwise, it won't.
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So at this time I would like to yield to Bobby Scott, who can better illustrate the study and what taking money from punishment to prevention can actually bring us.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you. Thank you, Marty.
Madam Attorney General, what the gentleman from California is indicating is the budget that I did with some of what we could have done with prison money in Virginia. Virginia passed abolished parole, and rather than flat-out abolish parole, they doubled the average time served, which got you up to about 50 percent of the nominal punishment. So the person who could not make parole would serve 50 percent of the time he could have served if he didn'tif he hadn't messed with the system.
But to bring it all the way up to 50 percent, so that Richard Allen Davis and Charles Manson would get a 50 percent reduction in their sentence, to get it up that high would cost about a billion a year in operating expenses after a $2 billion expenditure for new prisons.
And we did a another little budget with what you could have done with that money, taking into consideration the studies thatwe know the Job Corps works, the Midnight Basketball works to reduce crime; Headstart works to reduce crime; giving young people constructive things to do with their time reduces crime.
Our precincts, voting precincts in Virginia, have 1,500 to 3,000 voters in a precinct. We found that we could build a $1 million Boys and Girls Club in every precinct in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the construction money, and for the operating expenses you could run those Boys and Girls Clubs; you could double Headstart, guarantee a college scholarship for every kid that could get in and couldn't afford to go; provide a summer job for virtually every low-income kid in the State, and if you use those summer jobs to provide organized recreation for those that don't want to work, you could leverage those jobs, and have enough money to double job training under the Job Training Partnership Act, hire 200 additional police officers in every congressional district in the State; double the funding for community services boards, local mental health spending, and still have enough money left over to have a housing program that would eliminate every housing code violation in the State within 10 years. You could do all of that or fund a project that the supporters only indicated would reduce crime an amount which was statistically insignificant, and they had, in my judgment, had to exaggerate to get to that.
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As has already been indicated, we have a limited amount of resources, and when you take this kind of money and put it into increased prisons that by their own admission will do little good, if any, when you could have done all of this, forces us to focus on our allocation of resources.
And if you want to respond to that, I think the chairman would allow you to respond.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Certainly. I always allow the Attorney General to respond. [Laughter.]
Ms. RENO. Clearly, there are various ways in which resources can be allocated, but it is important that, whatever the allocation, we respond to the serious crime and to the dangerous offender. Yes, we might have been able to do something 10 years before, but he's dangerous now, and so we have to work together to make sure we have the resources to properly respond in a firm, fair way.
But I have pointed out, as I used to pick up an armed robber's pre-sentence investigation, I had gotten him adjudicated guilty of armed robbery at 17, and I would look to see the points along the way where I could have intervened in that child's life. He'd dropped out of school. A dropout program could have made a difference.
But then I discovered we sometimes wait until it's too late, until the child has already fallen a grade level or two behind and is acting out in other ways. So we started an early neighborhood intervention program around Headstart to focus on the issues that you're talking about. At that point, the crack epidemic hit in Miami in 1985, and I had to figure out what to do about crack-involved infants and their mothers. And that's where it became clear to me that you've got to start at the very beginning, and I think the statistics are sound enough now to show that child abuse, child neglect, the child of a crack-involved mother is going to have difficulty all along the way.
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So we have to work with State and local communities across this Nation to create the building blocks of a child's life. I mean, we're lookingsome children don't have parents to provide the discipline or to provide the love and to provide the support, and that's one of the most difficult issues that we have to deal with. And if we don't have such parents, what can we do to give parenting skills to families with children at risk?
If we take the building blocks, though, of a drug-free childhood, if we focus, for example, with the Federal dollars that we have on what can be done to really reduce domestic violence in this country, recognizing that the child who watches his father beat his mother comes to accept violence as a way of life. If we figure what we can do in providing better health care for our children, because you can look at pre-sentence investigations, as I have, and see where an illness along the way that was not treated because of lack of resources caused problems down the road. All of these pieces come together, but I don't think we say we're going to walk away from the dangerous offender, walk away from the serious criminal, and not provide the appropriate punishment. We've got to look at the whole building block and build it in a comprehensive way that can truly make difference and that can create a perception of fairness.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you.
Mr. Gekas, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. GEKAS. I thank the chairman.
General Reno, everyone seems to agree that the two great sources of trouble that we have in the juvenile crime arenain fact, crime generallyis illegal drugs and illegal access to guns or guns that are legal to which illegal access is given too often. And we have allegations that in the White House itself there were guests in the fundraising escapades in that hallowed establishment of alleged incidents of drug dealers and gun runners being accorded access to the White House. I think that's an important segment, to determine whether or not at the highest levels of authority we are giving an atmosphere of tolerance to the very things that seep down to the gang wars and to the access by juveniles to illegal guns and to drugs. I would like to know, as my top question: where are we in the decisionmaking of the Justice Department and the General's office, your own, in the quest for an independent counsel in that regard?
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Ms. RENO. As I have said, upon receipt of requests for independent counsel, what we do at the Justice Department is to review the evidence, look at the law, and make appropriate decisions, and we will continue to do that as our investigation proceeds.
Mr. GEKAS. We know that. I'm saying, Are youyou say you're in the process. Are we close to a decision?
Ms. RENO. As I have indicated, I have not received evidence that under the law would justify the appointment of an independent counsel. As we proceed with the very comprehensive investigation that we now have underway, should there be a basis for the independent counsel, I will request it.
Mr. GEKAS. There were no allegations brought to you or evidence of drug dealers or gun runners in those fundraising activities, none of that evidence at all?
Ms. RENO. I cannot discuss a pending investigation, of course, Congressman, but what we are trying to do is to proceed with the investigation, conduct the investigation, and if the evidence triggers the independent counsel statute, then it would be appropriate for me to request it. At this point
Mr. GEKAS. The only reason I followed up is because you said you had no evidence upon which to proceed or not the type that would
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Ms. RENO. No, sir, what I said was that we were proceeding with the investigation. But proceeding with an investigation and the request for an independent counsel are two separate issues.
Mr. GEKAS. I understand.
Ms. RENO. If the independent counsel statute triggers the issue, then I will, of course, request it.
Mr. GEKAS. You can't go so far as to deny that there's evidence of gun running and drug dealing activities in the fundraising situation?
Ms. RENO. Sir, I will not comment on a pending investigation.
Mr. GEKAS. I understand.
Ms. RENO. I don't think that's appropriate.
Mr. GEKAS. No, I don't want you to comment on what evidence
Mr. MARTINEZ. Mr. Chairman, regular order. I think that is a different subject from the hearing subject.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GEKAS. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Schumer, brought up the question of gun control activities which may beand so do drugs and guns of all types related to gangs
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Order, order, order. Mr. Martinez is making a point of order, and I believe that the gun issue is something related to the juvenile crime bill that was introduced by the administration. There are issues related to those. There are no issues before the subcommittees jointly today relating to the issue of the special prosecutor or the White House investigation. So the point of order isI must rule in favor of the point of order being made.
Mr. GEKAS. I'm shocked.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, you've made your points, Mr. Gekas. Please proceed
Mr. GEKAS. Yes, I'll proceed.
Mr. MCCOLLUM [continuing]. On the subject matter of the hearing.
Mr. GEKAS. The point that I also wanted to bring to your attention is that the Brady bill, which is mentionedfor Mr. Martinez' satisfaction, I want him to know thisthat in the President's strategy paper and the very proposals that are going to be encompassed in the Schumer bill include an inclusion, do they not, into the Brady bill as it now exists of juvenile offenders and their records, as it were, to determine whether or not at age 18 they should be able to purchase a gun? Is that correct?
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Ms. RENO. For juveniles who have been adjudicated guilty of a serious felony
Mr. GEKAS. Right.
Ms. RENO [continuing]. They will be included under this legislation in the Brady coverage.
Mr. GEKAS. Yes, that's what I'm saying, and the President's strategy calls for that as one of the proposals; is that correct?
Ms. RENO. That's included in the legislation.
Mr. GEKAS. Yes. Yes. Now what I wanted to know is that, in view of the fact that the sunset provision of the Brady law is now in effect and comes into fruition in 1998 with respect to the instant check system that the Justice Department is mandated to bring about, can you give us an update on where we stand on the instant check system?
Ms. RENO. We have been working with States across the country through the National Criminal History Improvement Program Act to make sure that we focus resources where they are needed to permit States to develop the capacity to participate in the National Criminal History Instant Check System.
Mr. GEKAS. Are we on-track? Will wedo you estimate that we'll be able to fulfill the mandate by 1998?
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Ms. RENO. I don't know at this point. We are, again, trying to use the resources that have been made available to the Justice Department to enhance it in every way possible. I can't say that by December 1st of 1998 that we will have this Comprehensive National Instant Check System included in every State.
Mr. GEKAS. In a letter that I received from your Department signed by Mr. Fois, he expressed some concerns that we're going to have problems with the privacy and security of data contained in the system, particularly records pertaining to mental commitment and illegal drug use. I'm wondering if those areas wouldn't call for some conferences between your people and ours to determine what legislation we can cooperatively develop between now and the end of the 1998 cycle to prevent or to facilitate the system, given those problems. Can we do that?
Ms. RENO. We would be happy to work with you in every way possible in that effort because I think it is going to take all of us working together to begin to meet the December 1st timeframe.
Mr. GEKAS. All right, thank you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Gekas.
Mr. Castle, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. CASTLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Good morning, General Reno.
When you and I were kids, we used to fight our fights out with our fistsmaybe you didn't, but some of us did.
Ms. RENO. My mother wouldn't let us. [Laughter.]
Mr. CASTLE. And even West Side Story graduated to a knife fight, as a matter of fact. If they were making West Side Story in 1997, they wouldn't have an audience because of the gun fight that would be going on and all the bullets flying around the stage.
I worry about guns, and I worry about youth having guns. I see the rate here in Washington, DC, which is horrendous. Even in Wilmington, Delaware, even if crime rates are down, we have more people using guns, more youths using guns.
I saw something here in the questions the staff prepared which I didn't know, and you may refute it. But I'd like to ask you this question to start off my questioning on gun control. It says the President's proposal would increase the penalties for violations of 18 USC 922(x) which makes it unlawful for a person to transfer a handgun to a juvenile or for a juvenile to possess a firearm.''
I understand, based on statistics from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, that there wasn't a single 922(x) case brought in 1995. Do you know if any persons, adults, or juveniles were charged for violating 922(x) in 1996?
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Ms. RENO. I'll be happy to check for you. I don't have those figures at my fingertips.
Mr. CASTLE. Well, we don't need to getI'm not too worried about the details, although I'd like to have the answer.
Mr. CASTLE. I don't know much about this section. I suppose there's some arguments about Federal versus State enforcement or something of this nature, but, I'll tell you, I am concerned. I mean, it seems to me that we do have some laws on the books, and I know in Delaware we have our U.S. attorney who's excellent, and our courts really have more time and ability to handle these cases than our State courts. But if we really do have a provision in our statutes which would allow us to trace some of these guns, and to go back against the illegal obtaining of guns, because most people, most criminals using guns are getting them illegallymaybe originally it was from a legal sourcethen I think we have a problem.
And if we're not doing that, we could increase the penalty all we want. We can hang people, for all that matters, but if we're not enforcing it, then I would suggest that we have a problem in this country. That may apply to State laws as well as Federal laws. So I'd love to know more about it.
Ms. RENO. You cited several different provisions. Are you referring to
Mr. CASTLE. No, I cited one provision. I cited 18 USC 922I assume it's ''X'' and not ten.
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Ms. RENO. Are you referring to the Youth Handgun Safety Act?
Mr. CASTLE. Yes, I believe it is the Youth Handgun Safety Act; right.
Ms. RENO. Here's what we've tried to do. I went to the State and local prosecutors and said, ''We want to form a partnership with you. If you can handle cases, we don't want to federalize something unduly.'' That's one of the big criticisms we get from prosecutors, from sheriffs, and others. They say, ''Look, we can handle it.'' But where there are situations where we can more effectively handle it, and there, we want to work with you. Most of these cases are handled by the State and locals. We have undertaken prosecutions, I'm told, in some 71 instances last year, and we will double-check the figure for you and provide you with the additional information and confirm that.
Mr. CASTLE. Well, I appreciate that. My view of it is that high-visibility cases are vitally important. If we can assume enough cases at a Federal level to let people know we're doing it, it makes a difference. I mean, I really honestly believe that's a very, very important sign to those out there that they should not be dealing in guns.
And going on the guns
Ms. RENO. That would be one of the reasons that we would work with the local prosecutor, and where we could
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CASTLE. Well, I don't see the local prosecutors doing that much in there, either, but I don't know much about what they're up to. I mean, I just don't see a lot of, as I said, high-level
Ms. RENO. Let me give you a perspective then, because congressional committees used to come to town in Miami and say, ''We don't see much going on. We're not aware of it.'' But for those people who have been in the system, have watched the juvenile courts, watched others handle it, there's a lot more going on than most people looking in from the outside understand. But I will work with
Mr. CASTLE. I appreciate it. I don't mean to cut you off, but I do want to ask you another question or two, okay?
Ms. RENO. Okay, but I'm going to work with the prosecutors
Mr. CASTLE. Right.
Ms. RENO [continuing]. To make sure that
Mr. CASTLE. Federal and State, because I think it's important.
Let me ask you another question before the lights go off.
Ms. RENO [continuing]. People don't fall between the cracks.
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Mr. CASTLE. Excuse me?
Ms. RENO. Offenders such as this don't fall between the cracks.
Mr. CASTLE. Right; exactly.
With respect to the incident of the man in Florida, the man from the Middle East who went to Florida, got a gun, and went to the Empire State Building, one of the things that caught my eyeI may have this wrong, so you correct me if I don't say it correctly, but one of the things I recall in the newspaper stories was that there is a 90-day residency requirement for noncitizens before they could obtain a gun, or something to that effect was my recollection, which is in an oath that they sign. Now somebody who's about to go out and commit a serious crime, they're sure as heck going to sign an oath, you know, saying that they've been here for 90 days, or whatever it may be. Do you know anything about that? And should we be looking at that?
Mr. Schumer earlier mentioned some sort of a greater identification, and maybe that's necessary, but it seems to meI mean, that's just an incredible story, that somebody could come to the United States and in that short of time get a gun and go out and commit mayhem, as that gentleman did.
Ms. RENO. My understanding is that the ATF and the Treasury Department are looking at this very issue because although you are required to be a resident for 90 days, there is nothing on the form that is provided that addresses that issue, and I understand, and we're awaiting their response as to what might be appropriate.
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Mr. CASTLE. Well, if I could just finish up for a moment, Mr. Chairman?
I mean, I would hope we would go beyond just signing an oath. I think there must be some affirmative evidence of this, be it what Mr. Schumer said or something else. I mean, people violate oaths all the time, particularly people who are about to commit crimes. I just think that's a terrible way to deal with the limitation of people purchasing guns. That's just a personal observation, if it turns out that way.
Ms. RENO. This is one of the issues that everyone is addressing, trying to see what could be done and what would be appropriate.
Mr. CASTLE. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RIGGS [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Castle.
Mr. Miller, do you have questions for the Attorney General? You may proceed for 5 minutes.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the Attorney General for her appearance and for the submission of this legislation.
We have been talking about, and this legislation, obviously, directs its attention to, teenagers as perpetrators of violence, and tries to, I think, address resources and define those who are serious perpetrators of violence, if you will. I'm also terribly concerned about teenagers as victims in this situation. I think most of the statistics will suggest that teenagers are in far more danger from drugs not used by them, but used by the adults and the families in which they live, and that the same would be true of alcohol, and the same would clearly be true of violence. And we're now seeing a rapid progression in scientific studies about seriously-abused children and brain-damage and where these children later end up in our society as very violent and episodically extremely violent people, and there's some very interesting brain research, and I know the White House is hosting a summit on the brain and development.
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One of my concerns is this: that we in this legislation, as I understand it, we're asking for some pilot programs to look at drug testingyes, I guess drug testingof all teenagers seeking their drivers' licenses.
The evidence seems to be overwhelming that more teenagers are getting killed by adults who are driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol than teenagers who are either killing themselves or others. That's not to dismiss the problem.
But I wonder why we're singling out teenagers for this drug test when we have, apparently, this huge list of fatalities inflicted upon others by people who are 20 to 35, 20 to 40 years old, and if you look at men, it becomes real dangerous when they get behind the car for society, and why we decided thisor are proposing this?
Ms. RENO. I was surprised by your question because I didn't believe it was in the bill. I've confirmed that it's not in the bill.
Mr. MILLER. Doesn't itdrug testing and drivers' license, it says, ''As a first step the report recommends,''you're not taking, you're not embracing that report from McCaffrey then?
Ms. RENO. This legislation does not address that. What we have tried to do here
Mr. MILLER. The President addressed it in his Saturday morning address a couple of months ago and said that's what he wanted.
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Ms. RENO. It's not addressed in this legislation.
Mr. MILLER. It is not?
Ms. RENO. That's right, sir.
Mr. MILLER. Well, that's very encouraging because Iyou know, I spend a lot of time with teenagers. I teach in a continuation high school on a regular basis, and I teach other classes with high schools, and, you know, I would hope that we would not lose sight of an awful lot of these young people who are living andyour work is preeminent in this field, but I'm talking about us as the Congressthat we have an awful lot of young people growing up in an environment of chaos and violence and drugs that is far beyond their control, and 97 percent of them don't partake in it, but they live in it. And I'm deeply concerned that we start to scapegoat this generation, because it's relatively easy to get our hands on, as opposed to also the environment in which they're living.
Ms. RENO. One of the things that I think it is critically important for us to do is let the young people of America know how remarkably wonderful the great, great majority of them are. And the reason I think it's so important is because I have been to two classrooms here, close-up classrooms, in the past year in which kids have asked me, ''Why are people blaming us? Why do they call us a predator generation?''
And my response is, ''I don't think you are.''
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I go to so many different communities where kids are doing such extraordinary thingsvolunteering, tutoring, making a difference.
But let me go to your point and to answer the question of how we get this job done. One of the places the children get hurt most by drugs is being brought into this world by crack-addicted mothers. What if we take some of the drug court monies, combine it with community policing and community probation, and identify those parents before they slip into the addiction and take positive steps to get them off on the right foot, help them to make a difference? And the same issue with violence, if we target our domestic violence monies, recognizing that children are the victim of parental violence because they come to accept it, we can do so much. If we start again thinking in terms of the building blocks of what makes a good life and gives a child a chance of success, and we use the Federal tools that we have in the right way, we can make a difference. But we also have got to recognize that part of the building blocks of youth are recognizing that they're going to be held accountable when they do wrong.
Mr. MILLER. Well, if I could just respond, Mr. Chairman?
I have no problem with that. I wrote the first law, enforceable law, that said if you bring a gun to school, you're out for a year. I think youth do need bright lines and guidance, and so forth, and I think it's very important that we don't send ambiguous messages to them and mixed messages, but, by the same token, the youth I talk to say the same thing. They're trying to stay out of the way of violence, out of the way of drugs that are offered to them, are in their environment by adults. And we offer, for the most part, very little to them in terms of options where they can go and be creative and use their energies that youth have in a constructive fashion.
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And I just worry that the focus here is starting to develop this, as you say, a notion that this is a predator generation. The remarkable story is how many of these young kids in these terrible environments are able to stay out of it
Ms. RENO. But that's
Mr. MILLER [continuing]. And survive it.
Ms. RENO. That's the reason the legislation focuses as wellnot this legislation, but the President has recommended monies in the Department of Education for a thousand initiatives showing what can be done with positive, constructive afternoon and evening programs for young people.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you.
Mr. RIGGS. Thank you, Mr. Miller.
Let me just note for you and for our colleagues here that, for the record, the number of juvenile drug arrests rose from 65,000 in 1990 to 147,00 in 1995, and arrests for marijuana possession increased by 400 percent over that same time period.
Ms. Jackson Lee, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. MILLER. What's that mean?
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Mr. RIGGS. Justwe want to include that in the record, that's all.
Mr. MILLER. Oh.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
And to the Attorney General, I appreciate the time that you've shared with us this morning, as well to acknowledge your longstanding commitment, as your work evidenced in Miami, to the issues dealing with abused and neglected children.
I am not going to follow in the tradition of the gun-running question but, Madam Attorney General, just about 48 hours ago an African-American church was burned in my district, the home church of the Honorable Barbara Jordan. I will be giving to you a letter requesting that that church be added to the National Church Arson Task Force and will be looking to working with your office on that issue, if you would please, as we conclude this hearing. Thank you.
Now I will proceed and simply also say that we need to begin to look at solutions that have a balance with concern to delinquency and juvenile violence, as has become a major concern, but as well to equally be concerned about our children and their direction.
Coming from Houston, needless to say that there is, along with good children, certainly a history of juvenile violence. I pay tribute to two young women, two teenagers who died at the hands of juvenile gang violence, Ms. Berkman and Ms. Pina, particularly to their parents who have been longstanding contributors to the fight against the proliferation of juvenile violence.
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And so I don't come to this with disrespect. I don't come to this in a lightness or lightheartedness, but I do come with great concern. And let me make these comments: First of all, there are certain stereotypes that we have in this nation that are obviously untrue, but we hold these stereotypes in a sort of fixed position. It may be that all whites are prejudiced or racist, maybe that blacks are criminals, Hispanics are illegal, and Asians may be gang members. We recognize that these are not truths.
But, unfortunately and tragically, in my community there are many times when African-American youth may fall into the victimization of being perceived as the criminals of the day. I do recognize with an African-American population of 12 percent of the Nation some 35 percent of them are arrested, 55 percent of the convictions are African-Americans and 74 percent of the prison sentencing.
Where does that bring us with respect to juvenile crime and juvenile violence? Well, when youngsters dress up with droop pants and things that most of us would not be concerned with, maybe in the suburbs which is called a hybrid gang those youngsters are warned and taken home. Maybe, however, in the inner city they are tagged and taken down to the juvenile detention facility. So my concern, Madam Attorney General, is to understand about what we're doing.
Many times our youngsters will join gangs in our inner cities to be protected so that they are not beaten up, trampled on, and intimidated by those who are similar to individuals who join gangs in prisons to avoid being raped and, therefore, be protected.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are instances in my community where parents are held in contempt of court for their children not showing up in court, i.e., a hard-working single parent at an accounting firm was taken away in handcuffs because a child that she was trying to raise and didn't know where they were was lost to the system, and she, of course, lost her job.
I understand that we are adding to our violent crime numbers delinquent acts such as throwing stones and others. I also understand that we don't have joyriding anymore, so that if you're not the driver, rather than getting to be for joyriding, you're getting for an unauthorized use of a vehicle.
My question, Madam Attorney General, is this: in your legislation you have you would permit juveniles to petition for the courts to have their cases transferred to juvenile court. Does that mean that that burdens the poor youngster? Are they provided with lawyers? My first question.
The second question is to reinforce the comments of Mr. Miller, Mr. Martinez, and Mr. Scott. Here we have evidence by the Rand Commission that graduation incentives would help to prevent crime in juveniles, meaning cash incentives for the 4 years that they're in high school. Would that not be a better investment in terms of the billions of dollars that we're now looking to do both in this legislation and in building juvenile facilities to house those that are to prosecuted thereunder? I'd appreciate your response to my concerns and questions, and thank you for your appearance here today.
Ms. RENO. With respect to the graduation incentives, I'd like to share a story with you. I was in an inner city area in Birmingham in January. I went to the high school wondering what I would hear because I go to talk to young people and ask them what could be done to make a difference to prevent crime. They said we think we've got the crime thing pretty much under control, but what we need are computers; we need computers. We also need to teach the teachers how to teach us to use the computers. And thenand it was very interesting to methey said, then you let us go out and bring the dropouts back in because we know how to talk to them better.
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Whether it's going to be a dollar incentive or whether it's going to be computers and relevant subject matter that can really interest young people and give them a sense that this will contribute to their future, we have got to organize to make sure that there are positive programs that keep young people in school and give them the avenue in which they can proceed to develop positive opportunities.
This also goes to the person who has committed a crime and has come back to the community. It is very difficult for them in many instances to get a job or to pursue opportunity because they have the record. We've got to provide aftercare and support and reintegrate them into the community the right way.
I think it is imperative that we use our dollars as wisely as possible to give every young person in this country an opportunity to succeed and to prevent the stereotyping that you described.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. My other question involved the cost of a juvenile trying to petition to be out of the adult system. Is the cost borne by the juvenile and do they need to require the lawyers
Ms. RENO. No. If the juvenile could not afford, if his family and if he were declared indigent, the public defender would represent him.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much. MadamI'm sorry, Mr. Chairperson. I do have an opening statement. I'd appreciate it if I'd be allowed to submit that for the record.
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Mr. RIGGS. Without objection, all members wishing to submit opening statements for the record can do so.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
Mr. RIGGS. Madam Attorney General, I'd like to go to Mr. Schiff for one more round of 5-minute questioning, but would also like to point out that we have, as you well know, a vote in progress to be followed by three 5-minute votes on the House floor, and I'd like to ascertain if you could stay and join us, rejoin us at 1 o'clock when the subcommittee would reconvene after a short lunch recess. Would that be
Ms. RENO. That would be fine.
Mr. RIGGS [continuing]. Agreeable with your schedule?
Ms. RENO. Yes.
Mr. RIGGS. Thank you very much.
Mr. Schiff, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Attorney General, welcome also.
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Because opening statements were limitedand I understand thatI'm going to take the first couple minutes to make three observations and hope you'll bear with me.
The first is, as it was mentioned by yourself as well as Congressman Schumer, that crime is down around the country, which of course is true, but I have to say it is not down in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's significantly up. And I think, as I believe you do, that crime is a very complex issue, so I won't point to one reason for the fact that our crime rate is rising when around the country it's going down, but I think a major factor I can point to is the fact that the good-time credit given to those in the penitentiary of New Mexico off their sentences is the most liberal in the Nation. All convicted criminals in the State penitentiary are eligible and always receive half off their sentences. And I am not saying that I believe that every convicted criminal should go to prison. I don't believe that. I believe in alternatives to sentencing. But I think those who need to be removed from the street need to stay off the street.
And our State legislature thought 50 percent was too much time to serve a sentence and proposed a bill because we still have a prison crowding problem because of their lack of funding for the prisons. Our State legislature proposed a bill to release criminals from the penitentiary even faster than 50 percent off. Governor Gary Johnson vetoed that bill, and that's the best news I've heard for law enforcement in New Mexico in quite some time.
Second, Madam Attorney General, I want to observe that there are two bills before us right now, H.R. 810, the administration's bill, and H.R. 3, drafted by our subcommittee chairman, Mr. McCollum. I don't think these bills are necessarily inconsistent. I think there is great prospect for merging these bills potentially into one bill. So I think the chance of a bipartisan cooperation between parties and also between Congress and the administrationI'm very optimistic about that.
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The third observation I would make is with respect to the Youth Handgun Safety Act, Madam Attorney General. I hope that when you respond to Congressman Castle's request for information on the number of prosecutions, you will also break down the number of prosecuted adults and the number of prosecuted juveniles in that division.
In the State of New Mexico there has never been a prosecution of a juvenileI'm not sure there's been a prosecution of an adultbut I don't think there's been a prosecution of a juvenile in the almost 2 1/2 years that bill has been on the books. You may recall I helped pass that bill when it was a free-standing bill introduced by Congressman Glickman.
I think it has turned out to be a farce. I think we should never have put anything on the books that we didn't intend to enforce. And that's exactly what we did. We said it's a crime. It's a crime for a juvenile under most circumstances to possess a handgun in this country, but we don't bother to enforce it. And if you have the statistics that show me I'm wrong, I welcome your getting them to me and making them public, but with respect, I don't think you do. I don't think we've made any effort to enforce the act. We'd be better off repealing it than to have the situation of a law on the books that simply is disregarded. I think that's a very poor image for law enforcement.
Let me stop there. Do you have any desireif you wish to respond on any of the issues that I have taken the liberty of just propounding on
Ms. RENO. Yes. With respect to the first one, as a prosecutor in Miami, I prosecuted, convicted, went to trial, avoided the plea bargain, got a 5-year sentence or a 10-year sentence which was within the guidelines, and the offenders would be out in 20 to 30 percent of the sentence, and nothing made me madder because the sentence's design was a fair sentence. And I think we have got to make sure there is truth in sentencing and that fair, firm sentences are fulfilled. I think that was behind the joint effort, the bipartisan effort, in the 1994 Crime Act to authorize prison construction.
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Mr. SCHIFF. I agree with you completely, which is not either of us saying every convicted criminal should go to prison.
Ms. RENO. Exactly.
Mr. SCHIFF. But it's saying those who a judge feels or sentencing guidelines dictate should be in prison should serve most of their sentences.
Ms. RENO. Secondly, with respect to point No. 2, I think we are going to work out something that's going to have a real impact, and I'm very, very encouraged.
Thirdly, let me talk with the prosecutors in New Mexico, see what needs to be done, and address the issue. What I am told is that our best estimate is that 71 people have been charged. As I indicate, I have met with the National District Attorneys Association, and when they are handling the case, we don't do it. There's no sense in both of us doing it. But let me explore the New Mexico situation in response
Mr. SCHIFF. I meant that nationwide. I'm just more familiar with New Mexico.
Mr. Chairman, may I ask the Attorney Generalhave a few more seconds to ask for one more statistic?
Mr. RIGGS. Certainly.
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Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Attorney General, I note that you say that under the Brady Law more than 175,000 fugitives, felons, and other prohibited persons were kept from purchasing a handgun. I must say quite a rise from the 40,000 that the administration talked about during the campaign last fall.
But I have this question and ask if you'll get it to the members of these two subcommittees: of that number, all of whom violated Federal law by falsifying the form to apply for a handgun by denying that they were a convicted felon or other prohibited class, I'd like to know how many of those individuals were prosecuted by the Justice Department for the Federal offense of falsifying that form. Could I ask, at your convenience, if you could provide that information?
Ms. RENO. I think the number is limited because, again, with problems of proof and with State and locals being directly involved, it has not been something that U.S. Attorneys have pursued.
Mr. SCHIFF. Well, I think the problem is, once again, a law went on the books that nobody was serious about.
Ms. RENO. Well, I think
Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you, Madam Attorney General.
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Ms. RENO. I think the important point is to realize that what was hoped for was that people who should not have a gun didn't get the gun.
Mr. SCHIFF. But, if you leave these people on the street, they will get a gun somewhere. If we're going to have the Brady Lawand I didn't support it for a number of reasons. I really questioned if it's constitutional under the Tenth Amendment. But if we're going to have it, use it. And we've identified these people who the administration claims are dangerous potential felons. We have a Federal offense that they have committed identified by the local law enforcement in the Brady bill check. Let's prosecute them.
Mr. RIGGS. Mr. Schiff and Madam Attorney General, we're going to have to stop there. And members are advised that we will reconvene promptly at 1:00 p.m. The joint subcommittee's hearing stands in recess.
Mr. MCCOLLUM [presiding]. The joint subcommittees' hearing will come to order at this time.
I would recognize Mr. Wexler for 5 minutes.
Mr. WEXLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Like the Chairman, Mr. McCollum, I have had the great honor to have had the opportunity of working with the Attorney General when she was the State attorney in Miami, and I recall very fondly your efforts with respect to the change in sentencing guidelines with respect to the Florida statutes and your very reasoned voice with respect to the change and discussion of the minimum mandatory sentencing with respect to Florida's sentencing.
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I was curious to hear your commentsI noticed in the administration bills there is an inclusion of, I think, one additional minimum mandatory sentence and an increase in one of the minimum mandatory sentences from 1 to 3 years with respect to some drug offenses, particularly with respect to around school grounds, and so forth. And I was wondering if you might comment as to why you think it's appropriate to handle this in a manner of a minimum mandatory sentence rather than the typical sentencing guideline method.
Ms. RENO. There is a new minimum mandatory sentence in this proposed legislation that would be levied against an adult who gave a child a gun knowing that that child or young person intended to use it to commit a serious violent crime. There is just no excuse for that. There is no mitigation, I think, that would argue against a minimum mandatory. The legislation increases the mandatory minimum for those who sell drugs to kids knowing that they are kids. There is no excuse for that. There's nothing that mitigates that. And I think these sentences as proposed reflect what the President and I feel are the sentences that fit the crime.
Mr. WEXLER. If I may just follow withand I respect very much that response and agree with it. With respect to the increase in the time, I'm curious, then, and I agree with you no excuse whatsoever, why a minimum mandatory of 3 years then, rather than possibly a longer period?
Ms. RENO. Oh, we'd consider that, too.
Mr. WEXLER. Okay. That's all I have Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. All right, Mr. Meehan, I believe you're next down on that list. You're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. MEEHAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank the Ms. for taking the time to appear in the afternoon session before this committee. And let me also say that one of the most gratifying votes that I made when I was a freshman Member of the Congress was for the crime bill. It is working effectively in communities all across America, and I think the fact that we have an Attorney General who was active in the front lines of the fight against crimethere's a lot of rhetoric in this building about crime, but those who have served either as assistant district attorneys or in the fight against crime in courthouses dealing with victims of crime understand that the key to our battle against crime, at least in terms of the crime bill, was the community policing, the initiatives which, by the way, are reducing crimes in cities all across America. It's not just Boston. My hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts has a community policing program that I believe is a national model. In addition to that, I agree with the comments from Mr. Schumer that what we need to do is make more investments in terms of preventative programs.
I want to point out that the Federal court role in juvenile justice is really very, very small. There were fewer than 400I'm sorry500 juveniles went through the Federal system last year. Now half of those were referred to States for prosecution or delinquency proceedings. Thirty percent went through the proceedings; 20 percent were prosecuted as adults. Ninety-nine, better than 99 percent of the juvenile crime we're talking about is State and local crimes, and they're the people that are dealing with it, which is why this initiative is so important because it gives resources to State and local governments. And that's really what the crime bill was all about, and that's what this initiative is all about.
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One of the things that is particularly interesting to me is the $200 million for local prosecutors to fight gangs. I meet on a regular basis with the district attorney in Middlesex County, the chief of police in Lowell, Ed Davis, the probation department, the schools, all of those who are involved in monitoring these young kids. And what I'm wondering, Attorney General Reno, if you could describe what the initiatives are that the administration would hope to see local prosecutors offices involved in as a result of this program.
And, also, I'm interested in those models that you would be looking at, and there are models across the country that are in place now and working very effectively simply by meeting and comparing statistics and talking about individual students with school officials, prosecutors, and police departments all there at the wholeat the same time. So I'm interested, specifically, in what this program will consist of.
Ms. RENO. Well, basically, what we try to do is listen to those at the State and local level who are on the front lines who know what their problems are. The needs in Lowell may be different than the needs in Los Angeles. What does Los Angeles need in terms of focused efforts on violent youth, and what does it need to prevent youth from becoming violent? How can we best structure something?
For Los Angeles, it may be monies for a community probation officer to work with the State prosecutor's office, to work with the community police officers in identifying the truly serious offenders that need to be gotten out of the juvenile system. At the same time they are developing intensive supervision on the part of probation officers working with community police officers that keep, through intervention programs, others from becoming more violent.
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In other instances it may be a community police officer working with the school system to identify youngsters who are beginning to act out in school, beginning to exhibit dangerous and other characteristics that indicate violence may be shortly down the road. We can do so much if we listen to the people who are on the front lines.
Mr. MEEHAN. No question about that. Just as a followup, I happened to have been meeting Monday with some people who are also on the front lines against crime, the judges and theFederal judges in the Massachusetts district, and there was concern expressed in a meeting I had that when we try to begin the process of treating some juveniles as adults, what is the judicial review going to be? And I was wondering if you could specifically say what the judicial review will be in terms of taking juveniles in Federal court and trying them as adults.
Ms. RENO. For those 16 or over who are charged with commission of extremely serious felonies and certain very narrow drug offenses, the U.S. Attorney could direct file on them without court approval. For those 16 or over in a lesser category, a less serious but still violent felony, these people could come into court, after the U.S. Attorney filed in Federal court, and file a reverse motion, if you will, to transfer the case to a juvenile proceeding. The burden would be on the person making the motion.
For those under 16, again, the U.S. Attorney has the authority to file, but the court has the opportunity to review that transfer. There is still the safety valve of the court for the serious, violent felonies.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEEHAN. Thank you, General.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much. I understand, Mr. Roemer, Mr. Scott has got to leave here. We're going to go to him next. I recognize Mr. Scott for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Attorney General, I wanted to follow up on that just a bit. If theaccording to the bill, if a prosecutor wants to try a kid as an adult, and the juvenile decides he doesn't want to be tried as an adult, you indicated a safety valve?
Ms. RENO. Again, if it's in the category where the prosecutor can file directly, he files directly. Then the juvenile files a motion for transfer back to the juvenile proceeding.
Mr. SCOTT. Okay. Now, are there witnesses? Can you call witnesses to that proceeding?
Ms. RENO. Yes, he could.
Mr. SCOTT. And so you can have the traditional preliminary hearing?
Ms. RENO. I'm not sure that the procedures have been spelled out, and that might go to the rules, but what I'd like to do is make sure we get you the full information as to just how it would be done, rather than my speculate.
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Mr. SCOTT. We'd talked earlier about being serious and locking people up who've committed serious crimes. You recognize that we already lock up more people per 100,000 population than anywhere on earth that counts.
Ms. RENO. Yes.
Mr. SCOTT. Okay. In terms of what we're doing next on a balanced approach, how much money is in thehow much money are we going to spend on the Federal level for prisons next year?
Ms. RENO. It's approximatelythe amounts budgeted this year are approximately $600 million with about $200 million for SCAAP, which is reimbursement to States for criminal aliens, leaving about $400 million that is currently available, as I understand it.
Mr. SCOTT. And is that from the crime trust fund?
Ms. RENO. That's correct.
Mr. SCOTT. Okay. I thoughtwhat happened to the $10 billion over 5 years?
Ms. RENO. It was never funded at its full authorization.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCOTT. Okay, so we have next year about 400
Ms. RENO. I'll get you
Mr. SCOTT [continuing]. Million or so? Do you have a fiscal impact for theimpact for the increased penalties in this bill?
Ms. RENO. I do not have it broken down. I do not estimate that it would be a serious fiscal impact.
Mr. SCOTT. Do we have a fiscal impact for the impact on prisons for the additional prosecutors in the bill?
Ms. RENO. We will send it up.
Mr. SCOTT. We had a hearingMr. Riggs indicated thatmade reference to the hearing we had in California where many young people mentioned joining gangs for a lot of different reasons, mostly because their family and circle of friendsthe gang was about the only place they could actually join. There were not the Boys and Girls Clubs or Boy Scouts or other activities where they could join and have the social benefits of a gang.
What do we have in the bill to give our young people alternatives to joining gangs? I don't suspect that we're going to do much in terms of reducing gang violence by waiting for them to join gangs and then catching them in criminal offenses.
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Ms. RENO. First of all, the Administration has proposed additional monies in the Departments of Education and HHSan additional of about $62 millionfor after-school and evening initiatives designed to address just that issue.
In addition in this bill, we seek $75 million or an increase of $55 million, for an At-Risk Children Initiative, again designed by State and local efforts to prevent and to intervene with children at risk. Both would be available for just such initiatives.
Mr. SCOTT. In listening to the numbers; I'm struck by the fact that we talked about building more prisons after we've already gotten more than anywhere on earth, in the hundreds of millions, and we're talking tens of millions for this.
We've heard mention of the hard-core violent youth predators. Is there anything in present law that prevents robbers, rapers, and murderers from being treated as adults under present law? They are routinely treated as adults, and this bill would not have any additional effect on them. Is that right?
Ms. RENO. I don't think they're routinely treated as adults. I think
Mr. SCOTT. Murderers, robbers, and rapists are not routinely treated as adults?
Ms. RENO. I'm not quite sure about the robbers.
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Mr. SCOTT. Well, it's my understanding that half the people treated as adults aren't even violent offenders.
Ms. RENO. I'd be happy to check that out for you, sir.
Mr. SCOTT. Okay.
Mr. SCOTT. So that all the real violent offenders would obviously be covered already.
Ms. RENO. Let me go to the point that you're talking about. When you talk about prisons, you've got plenty of adult prisons. What is so important is to develop facilities that are secure and programs that can benefit a young person who's been convicted the second time for a robbery. I think if we work together, we can design programs that protect the public safety and yet at the same time give that 17-year-old who has robbed the understanding that there is a punishment, but that there is a route back to society when they complete that sentence that gives them an opportunity to get off on the right foot. I think this is what we're talking about.
Mr. SCOTT. Well, one of the things that we heard in the last hearing was a juvenile court judge say definitively that the longer sentences serve no deterrent nor rehabilitative effect, that what we need to do is place our resources where they can do the most immediate good, and that is on the prevention side. And we have hundreds of millions of dollars going to prisons and tens of millions of dollars going toward the kinds of things that you said, the child abuse prevention and all the other things that can make all the difference short-term and long-term. And the disparity, although we've loaded up on the prisons already, we're still loading up on a ratio of 10-to-1.
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Ms. RENO. I think, again, it's important that we design programs and secure facilities and aftercare programs that focus on those people who have committed dangerous crimes. We also have to work together to design something that lets them know they can't get away with it and brings them back to the community after they've served their sentence with the chance of getting off on the right foot.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Upton, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. UPTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Ms. Reno. I have so much to say I almost don't know where to start. So, first of all, I will say thank you for your appearance today and certainly for your commitment on this very important issue.
I'm not a lawyer. I spent a couple weeksor spent a couple of hours last week watching a juvenile court in Kalamazoo, and it is tough, let me tell you, it is really tough. I also represent St. Joe/Benton Harbor, the community that I'm from. Benton Harbor, which I know you know a little bit about, is about a population of about 12, 15 thousand people along Interstate 94 almost halfway between Chicago and Detroit. And there's a lot of gang stuff that goes on.
A couple years ago, Benton Harbor had, I think, the highest murder per capita rate in the country. And, tragically, last month they had 12 murders in 10 days, and in last night's paper, there were two more kids found shot to death as well.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For whatever reason, this small community has been overwhelmed, overrun by gangs and drugs and a whole host of things. In fact, I have helped convene a drug and gang task force, crime task force there, and I want to tell you that Mike Detmer, your U.S. attorney, is doing a terrific job in committing resources, as did John Smetega, who also worked for you, I know, for a little while.
But I was told only last week that some of these gangs are coming into the schools literally with $40,000 in cash enlisting kids to sign uppretty tough to turn down.
I intend to support a bill coming out of our committee, the Education Committee, and as we fight crime, there are a lot of things that are working. The drug courts are one, and I think that came out of the 1994 crime bill, a bill which I supported, and we've seen it work in two cases in my district. One is Marion County and the other in Kalamazoo. And I've spent time at those as well. In fact, just yesterday we were able to get some money from the Department of Justice for juvenile crime working through the drug courts, which is a very good idea.
We've seen Weed and Seed money help in communities across the country, and that was, I think, a George Bush initiative, but it's working and you've continued that and I appreciate that. We've seen more officers, more cops on the street. In my district alone we've seen 62 cops come on, and some counties didn't even have a night patrol until that came about. And we've seen a lot of initiative, special initiatives, sort of what Detmer is doing now in Michigan where we've got a murder task force, and by the way, that murder task force has a suspect from yesterday's murder already; he's likely the culprit. They wouldn't have him by now, and they would not have had some of the other murders that were conducted last month, without that Federal murder crime take force where they literally combined some of the FBI, the Marshal's Service, the U.S. attorney's office, the DEA and the ATF, working with the State police, the sheriff, and the local police together. I mean, it's been a very well-coordinated and supportive effort.
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And I guess as we get to my questions here, as I look at some of these, the four core requirements for States to benefit, you cite four things: deinstitutionalization of status offenders, I mean, all these are good ideas. Second was separation of juveniles from adults in institutions. Third was removal of juveniles from jails and facilities for adults, and the fourth one was overrepresentation of minorities in juvenile justice, or referred to sometimes as disproportionate minority confinement.
Although they're good, I'm curious to know how many States don't comply with that. MaybeI see my yellow light is on, so let me ask both my questions here before it turns red.
I'd like to know how many States don't comply with that because those are good ideas and they ought to be stuck to, but I don't want to makebut I also want to make sure that there is a mechanism in place where the Justice Department, perhaps working through the U.S. attorney's office to identify these pockets of real problems, as certainly I have in my district, where we can look at Weed and Seed, we can look at some of these things, and use them sort of as a model for going after and weeding out some of these bad folks. Now I know that in 1993 the Bush budget asked for $500 million for Weed and Seed. I don't think that yourI don't know what your budget request was for 1998. I don't think it's anywhere near that. My guess is that we're spending about $25 or $30 million each of the last couple years, but the Weed and Seed thing works. It works in my district, and it's just about ready to start working. We just have some initial stuff that's coming in, but we've seen it work in communities like Philadelphia, as well as places like Muskegan, Michigan and other places around the country. And you almost need a presence of Federal folks working together to help the local folks when they truly are overrun, as certainly they have been in pockets of my district and elsewhere around the country.
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So, with that, I yield the balance of my time for your answer.
Ms. RENO. Forty-six are in full compliance, including Michigan.
Mr. UPTON. Which States are not? Do you know which States are not. I'd like to jump on some of my colleagues. I know it'd better not be Indiana; otherwise, Roemer's in big trouble.
Ms. RENO. Here's what we have tried to do: about 2 years ago we developednow 3 years agoan Anti-Violence Initiative in which I asked the U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, DEA, and the Marshall Service along with the Border Patrol, where appropriate, to meet with the State and local officials to identify problems and to work together to exchange information and to create task forces such as Mike has created in Michigan. What he says is that you have also been instrumental in this effort. He sings your praises. He says you are great at bringing people together.
We started the drug court in Miami, and to see that
Mr. UPTON. And it's working.
Ms. RENO [continuing]. Community policing. I think what you talk about is what needs to be done. What I have tried to do is suggest to the U.S. Attorneys, you need to do the enforcement side of it, but what can we also do with Weed and Seed? What can we do with do with drug courts? How can we target grants to meet the needs of the community? Each community may have a different set of needs and resources, and we have to work with them in partnership.
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And Mike and I have talked about Benton Harbor, and we're working together on that. We haveI have been a strong supporter of Weed and Seed, and what I am told is that in some instances where you, instead of putting out the block of money and saying here's the dollars, in which many instances the dollars have been used for a physical facility as opposed for programs that can really affect people, what can you do first with the principles of Weed and Seed that the prior administration developed in terms of bringing the community together, identifying needs and resources, and blending them together in an effective effort both for a safe haven for the protection of the kids and for the weeding effort?
Steve Rickman, and if you haven't had a chance to talk with him, I
Mr. UPTON. I have.
Ms. RENO. He is really excited about the steps that communities are taking. What I have told Steve is, I need to back you up wherever I can within the Department or reaching out to other departments to make sure that we focus our efforts in a comprehensive way, filling in the blanks that are needed in a particular area.
Now let me caution you about one of the problems that I've run into with Weed and Seed. I have gone to Weed and Seed efforts, and they have been so successful that people from across town are coming to me and saying, ''They're driving the bad guys out of the Weed and Seed area, and they're pushing them into my area. I want a Weed and Seed, too.'' And so what we're trying to do is to work with communities as a whole, so that we don't target just one area but that we look at the whole and, through community initiatives, make a difference such as has been made in Boston.
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I'd really like to work with you on the Benton Harbor situation because I think it's a textbook of what's got to be done, and that's what we're about in the Department of Justice. It goes to what the chairman said at the beginning; I think we really can make a difference.
Mr. UPTON. Thank you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Upton. Mr Roemer, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. ROEMER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome Madam Attorney General.
I just want to start by saying to you that much is being written as we speak about the rising star of Madeleine Albright in this Cabinet, and I am hopeful and confidant that, in the near distant future, she will reach the ascendancy that you have in terms
Ms. RENO. Oh, she has already.
Mr. ROEMER [continuing]. Of your integrity and everything else. You are doing a great job.
I also want to say, in terms of what the President has done on this issue where he has convened a bipartisan meeting with Senator Lott and Speaker Gingrich, that we have now established that this juvenile crime prevention area can be an area of bipartisan cooperation. And now it is up to Congress, Republicans and Democrats, and the White House and the House of Representatives to act on this rhetoric and to accomplish something with results.
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And I hope that your bill that you're discussing here today can be the cornerstone of that one out of five programs that the Republicans and Democrats have now said that we're going to work together to try to achieve something that benefits America and our children.
Let me tell you a quick story. You've heard this probably many times in your travels around the country. I have a prison in my district, and I was recently touring that prison, and the superintendent of that prison was taking me around, and one wall in this prison was built during the Abraham Lincoln administration. And then I go to another part of the prison cell and it's got the most modern technology in the world to build a prison within the prison to keep inmates from killing one another. And I said to him at this point, ''How much are we spending on prisons and what do you calculate is the single most important variable to build new prisons into the next 20 years?'' He stopped, he grabbed my elbow, and he said, ''Remember this, if nothing else, Mr. Roemer: we look at the number of at-risk children in the second grade and we start building prison cells for them.''
Now I think that's the point that we have to come back to today and with this bill. We can have tough sentences, and I will support you down the line on tough sentencing and appropriate sentencing. Children cannot kill children for a gun, a tennis shoe, a tennis racquet, and if they do, they're going to spend time in prison.
But we also have an analogy going on where we have been trying to take a sip out of a fire hydrant. The first thing we need to do, and I think you've supported this your entire career, is turn off the fire hydrant. Let's get prevention in there for our children in the second grade.
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In California, Madam Attorney General, as you know, since 1984 they have constructed 21 new prisons. They've built one new universitytwenty-one new prisons, one university. In my State, in Indiana, we're building prison upon prison upon prison.
So my question to you and where I'd really like to work with you is this: in your budget here you allocate $200 million for prosecutors over 2 years, $50 million for juvenile courts. What I'd really like to see is what you have briefly touched on a couple times and try to get a dialog with you on it. Thirty-nine million needsyou talked about some money being put into research and evaluation. What specifically can we work on for a prevention program for children that is cutting-edge? What can we talk about in terms of another initiative that you mentioned, education health and human services, keeping our schools open on weekends and later in the day, since 51 percent of crime takes place between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m.? Thirdly, zero tolerance policies in our schools on gangs. Fourth, school uniforms to keep these dog-life gangs out of our schools.
And, fifth, I have a joint program going on in LaPorte County where my police department and my school is getting together to try to prevent the gang activity, in a small town of 20,000 people, LaPorte, Indiana, and we need some help financially to do this. We're trying to bring the parents of the children in before school and after school. We're trying to prevent the proliferation of drugs. But I want to come back to: we have to do something concrete in this bill on the prevention side, and I will support you on the tough penalty side.
Ms. RENO. There is $75 million suggested for the At-Risk Children Initiative. Then there is an additional $24 million, roughly the same asthis year for grants for promising programs. Those are some in addition to general research statistics and program evaluations and technical assistance. Here is
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Mr. ROEMER. Is it up to their discretion as to how much of that money
Ms. RENO. Here is the way. For example, incentive grants would be by application, but the At-Risk Children Initiative would be through the State funding formula, but it would be for prevention. It would be focused on that. It would go from the State to the local community. The community would have to come up with plans. Now let me suggest to you what is so important. One program in an elementary school is not going to work to reduce violence if in the middle school and then the high school there is not a continuation of the effort. And so what I think it is important to do, and what we've tried to do in the way we address this issue, is encourage communities to come up with comprehensive plans, to say these are our resources; these are our needs; these are our building blocks; this is what we're doing to reduce abuse and neglect; this is what we're doing to address domestic violence; this is what we're doing to make sure that children are not abused and neglected by crack-involved parents. These arethis is what we're doing in after-school and in evening programs, but we have this terrible gap right here and we'd like to work with you in terms of securing a grant to address that issue.
When you look at it as a whole picture, then you can see that it can work. But if you have pieces missing from that, it's not going to be as effective. And so I would like to work with you and with everybody concerned. I think Mr. Upton had some wonderful ideas. I mean, if you couldif you take just what the Federal Government has available now in terms of domestic violence funding, in terms of some funding on child abuse issues, in terms of Weed and Seed initiatives, drug courts, community policing, the use of the prison money in effective ways for after care as well, we can do so much if we use it smart and wisely and use it as part of a whole.
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Mr. ROEMER. Well, I appreciate those suggestions and I very much look forward to working with you back home in Indiana, especially in my home counties, to help alleviate this big problem.
Ms. RENO. Great.
Mr. ROEMER. Thanks for your help.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Roemer. Mr. Schiff.
Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you. First, Mr. Chairman thank you for accommodating my schedule. I have a number of high school students waiting for me at this time. I'll be very brief.
Madam Attorney General, I don't necessarily disagree with any of the comments I've heard back and forth today. I want to stress that I think the most important element of crime fighting is to keep career criminals off the street. That doesn't mean I don't recognize prevention or alternative sentencings, but I think career criminals have to be identified and kept in prison as long as possible.
That brings me to this specific: I would like to see the expansion of our three-strikes-and-you're-out statute. I personally favorI know everyone's not going to agree with thisI favor any three felonies should count for three strikes and you're out as a strike because we're talking about felonies or a group of felonies that occur once, and then the person has to go through the entire system, and then after sentencing commits them again. It isn't a felony on Monday and a felony Tuesday and a felony on Wednesday. So as we mean it, I think that verifies a person as a career criminal. I would go to two such felonies if they're violent felonies.
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I would just ask you to consider whether there's any room where the Justice Department, even if it doesn't agree with my approach, might agree with an expansion of the current statute that we have. I would appreciate working with the Justice Department if we do have some agreement on that issue. With that I
Ms. RENO. Let me make this suggestion: let me talk with the U.S. Attorneys and see if they have gaps. I think we've got to be very careful in how we design it because if you have an 18-year-old who commits the burglary of a structure and that's felony when he's 18 and he serves a year, he's not in trouble for another 15 years, and he does another burglary and then does a burglary when he's 50, I'm not sure that that's who we're aiming at, and yet under some State law those could be three felonies. But let us work together, see if there are holes, see what we can come up with.
Mr. SCHIFF. I just want to conclude by saying my experience as a prosecutor is it doesn't work that way. The person who committed a felony when they're 15 and committed a felony when they're 50 was committing felonies all the way along.
But I would welcome any place where we might agree and do more to keep career criminals off the street, and I thank you for that.
Ms. RENO. Well, I agree with you that there are some that are career criminals, and I've spent an awful lot of time with career criminals. And I know that there are a group of offenders that we agree on should be put away and kept away, and I'd like to work with you on that.
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Mr. SCHIFF. Well, if we can reach agreement on where to proceed, I'd like to work with you.
Mr. Chairman, again thank you for recognizing
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Schiff. Mrs. McCarthy, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mrs. MCCARTHY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's been a pleasure listening to you. I'm new in Congress, but for the last 3 years I have been working in the school districts all the way from New York City, out to Nassau County, in my district, and even further out in the Southhampton district.
I talk to young people, and they are the ones that really can open up your eyes, especially when you're talking to a small group, especially those that carry guns. I would ask them, ''Why are you carrying guns?''
''Well, we have to.''
''Why do you have to?''
''Because everybody else has guns.''
''Where do you get the guns?'' That's the scary part. Every one of them can tell me about a local place where you can go in and buy a gun fast. That's the scary part.
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But also my experience working with the DAs in Nassau County, and the judges keep saying we have to start working with the children younger. We have to be there for them. We have to prevent them before they turn to crime. We have some great programs, and I would love to invite you to my district and meet with everybody, because even though we're in a great suburban area, we also realize we have problems with our youth. We're seeing the probation officers saying their caseloads are going up and up. And they're trying to identify the young people that are at risk in the lower grades.
And I'm working on education issues, and I still believe that's where we can stop juvenile delinquency. If someone has done a serious crime, I think they have to pay for it. I'm not soft on crime whatsoever. But I would like to be able to get a hold of these kids and maybe turn them around before they turn to crime, and I'd be more than willing to work with you.
And, unfortunately, talking to all our the mayors, they've had seed money; they've tried programs; the programs have worked; then the seed money runs out, and they're frustrated.
They were able to work with one town, Rockville Centre, a great town, and they were able to have a couple policemen for the summer, and it was the first time that area was drug-free. Then, of course, they ran out of money. They don't have the police there, the community police, which I think work wonderfully. All the police say it works wonderfully, and yet they can't keep paying for it. So, unfortunately, here we're talking about money again. But, the important thing is the programs do work, but we have to be able to continue with them. And it's money well spent.
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Ms. RENO. It's money extraordinarily well spent. I spend a lot of time in the D.C. public schools talking to young people, answering their questions, working with them in the development of peer mediation programs that are teaching them how to resolve conflicts without knives and guns and fists. It doesn't cost much money to do that, and those kids are so wise. It is wonderful to start talking to young people about what needs to be done to prevent the crime. And Mr. Chairman, they are very careful to say you've got to do something about the bad guys. They just have such tremendous wisdom and such thoughtfulness and they describe programs that are needed.
I thinklet me just share with you what I think is a history that is instructional, whether it be Mr. Upton's district in Michigan or yours on Long Island. In the 1930s we began to look to Washington to solve our problems. With World War II, we became even more convinced that Washington was the place to solve problems. In the 1950s and 1960s, we looked to Washington for justice and civil rights. In the 1970s, we looked to Washington for an awful lot of money, and I was one of those grant recipients. But those were grants that came down to the community without sometimes rhyme or reason, and communities couldn't really coordinate.
It is fascinating to see what happens when money is wisely spent to enhance and to leverage community initiatives and community coordination that makes a difference. And I think that's the challenge that we face in developing these areas. Clearly, money is needed. Clearly, Federal assistance, both monetarily and technically, is needed. We can do so much with proper research, but it requires that partnership, and I'll look forward to visiting and seeing what we can do.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. MCCARTHY. Just one more thing: when you were talking about conflict resolutionlast week I was speaking at Jackson Avenue School, in Mineola, a school I graduated from, and my son graduated from, and they do conflict resolution. And also I went to a Headstart program, and they are working with 3- to 4-year-olds doing conflict resolution, and it's a program that works, and I would love to see more schools involved in it because young people often don't know how to handle their conflicts anymore.
Ms. RENO. I have a dream that when somebody gets a degree in teaching or gets a teaching certificate, that part of their course work will have been teaching mediation, teaching conflict resolution. When I went to law school, Roger Fisher taught me civil procedure, but there was never any discussion of negotiation. Now lawyers are learning to negotiate better, and kids are learning how to resolve conflict.
Mrs. MCCARTHY. Well, maybe we should put that in with President Clinton's standards for teachers.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mrs. McCarthy.
Mrs. MCCARTHY. Thank you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Barr, you're recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Attorney General, I have reviewed this morning the summary of major provisions for the anti-gang and youth violence legislation that the administration has made available. I haven't had a chance yet to go through the bill, but from the summary sheet here, I did have a couple of questions for you, please.
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On the last page of the three- to four-page summary, which is on page 27 of the President's strategy booklet, the second-to-the-last one, the heading is ''Protect Juveniles from Harm While in Custody,'' and the last clause on that, I don't know what it has to do with that or what it has to do with anything. Maybe I'm just misreading it. It said, ''and disproportionate minority confinement.'' What is that?
Ms. RENO. There are four core requirements now on funding, on formula funding, and one is to reduce disproportionate minority confinement as the condition of receiving funds pursuant to the formula.
Mr. BARR. Okay. So, it doesn't have to do with getting into this whole ball of wax about whether or not when we ran into buzzsaw several times over the last couple of years about the crack cocaine versus powdered cocaine and whether that was a racial problem or a minority problem or whatnot, it doesn't get us into that, does it, and get us off on that tangent?
Ms. RENO. No. And what we have tried to do through regulation is clarify that we're not looking at quotas. What we're concerned about is if you have a minority child and a non-minority child both similarly situated, both charged with similar type of crime, are they being treated equally or is there disproportionate incarceration or detention based on some impermissible factor?
Mr. BARR. Okay. Let me just state for the record, and there's really no question that I have for you on this because I think this is just one area where we're going to disagree, and that has to do with this so-called trigger lock program. It's my understanding, based on data that I've seen, that the number of childrenand I operate from the presumption that one child who dies form an accidental gunshot wound is certainly too many, but in terms of looking at the whole array of issues with which the Federal Government can really have an impact within concepts of federalism, I've seen statistics that the number of children who die each year from accidental gunshot wounds is right in the neighborhood of about 200 and that has dropped substantially over the last several years for a number of reasons probably.
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I think some States, like my own state of Georgia, are passing laws that make parents or adults who negligently, recklessly keep firearms that are accessible to children, and that happens and they have an accident, liable for it, which I think is appropriate.
I think it also has to do with the number of educational programs that the National Rifle Association, other civic groups, other civic associations and organizations, are involved in has helped also. So I justmy preference is really to see us focus on a number of the other aspects, both of our legislation that we have pending here and I think a number of very, very good and appropriate provisions that are contained in you all's bill here.
I did have just a couple of other questions. One is onthere's a provision in here, and I think that this is one of the same provisions that we looked at. It's on page 25. In the anti-terrorism bill last year; it's under targeting illegal gun markets, and it's the last bullet item that you all have there: ''to amend current law which makes it unlawful to transfer a firearm knowing that it will be used to commit a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, to authorize prosecution where the person has reasonable cause to believe that the gun will be so used.'' We got into that, and I don't know if it's the exact same provision, but that language sounds the same as an issue that we took up, as you may remember, as I know you remember, in the anti-terrorism bill, and those provisions were taken out during the legislative process.
But in having some witnesses and looking, testifying on this, and having some information on it in the bill last year, I don't recall really hearing from any prosecutors or the Department that there really were instances in which people who had sold or transferred a gun were able to hide behind the current requirement that it be knowing. We didn't hear of any cases where prosecutors really felt that they could not, through a legitimate but imaginative use of the current statutes, get at people that they really needed to get after. Is there other dataare there come cases that we could see that really show that there is a problem with the current law?
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Ms. RENO. I do not have any right here with me. Let me check and furnish them to you, if they are available. This, again, was legislation developed with the U.S. Attorneys. We will check and report back to you.
Mr. BARR. Okay. Yes, I'd appreciate that because I know we did take it up last time.
Mr. BARR. The provision under protecting victims' rights on page 26, ''Expanding Public Access to Juvenile Proceedings,'' that's good, and of course our bill, H.R. 3 that the chairman and I and a number of others have introduced, addresses that, but it goes further than it seems the administration is going here. What would be theand the language here, and, again, this is just your summary but it says, ''Proceedings are presumptively open but may be closed in the interest of justice for good cause shown.'' What would be the reason behind notfor juveniles, and we're talking here about juveniles who commit very serious adult-type offenses, and recognizing that societyas I think we've come to realize, society does need protection against having those people in their midst without knowing what they have done, what they've been convicted of. Why not just go further and say that, if we're going to recognize this category of juvenile, who up to this point have been treated very differently from adult offenders who commit the same offenses, that in recognition of society's need to protect itself against these people, since they have committed an adult offense, since they are being prosecuted as adults, with all of the safeguards that adults have, why notwhat would be wrong with letting the public know what they have done in exactly the same way that an adult offender is made known what they've done?
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. RENO. What we're trying to do is open up the juvenile proceeding, but we recognize that there may be a situation where to put all of the circumstances that precipitated the crime out in the public record for people to hear would not be in the best interest of getting that child off to a fresh start.
Mr. BARR. So if we're talking then about looking at juveniles that fall into the category, the age categories that we're talking about here who have committed adult-type serious offenses, would the administration have any objection to saying that those records should be available to the public in the same way that adultrecords on adult offenders are?
Ms. RENO. If, again, and correct me if I'm wrong just in terms of the time, but for those types of offenders who are tried as adults, that record would be made available.
Mr. BARR. The same as for an adult? Okay. Thank you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Barr. Mr. Fattah, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. FATTAH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Attorney General Reno, let me, first of all, compliment you on the job that you are doing. I do want to ask amake a couple of comments before I ask the question because of the previous member of the committee and his point that he made or the question that he asked.
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I do want the committee to take note that in a number of States and judicial conferences it has been found that there has been, and continues to be, racial influenced sentencing along every part of the continuum in terms of juvenile justice. The decision to arrest or not to arrest, what to charge, and even at the point of convictions those sentences have had a distinction when the young people involved were minority youngsters versus majority youngsters. And I think that theit is very, very important, as we have such an enthusiastic pursuit of justice in this country, that we try to do it evenhandedly, in that if we're going to be hard on juvenile offenders, we should be hard on all of them across the board and not have a situation where seemingly we are picking and choosing.
I do want to say thatI wanted to ask you a question particularly on this gang issue, that there areone of the things of note now is we have motorcycle gangs in our country transporting problems in some of their turf battles overseas, and I wanted to know to what degree the Justice Department in its anti-gang efforts is looking at these issues relative to motorcycle gangs.
Ms. RENO. We meet regularly with our colleagues, particularly in Western Europe and to some degree in South America. When I first became Attorney General and asked them about the issue of youth violence, they didn't seem to think that is was much of a problem. It has obviously become progressively more so, and this past December I had the opportunity to attend a conference on youth violence in England because of the concern being generated on the continent. We shared ideas
Mr. FATTAH. There is a nexus between these motorcycle groups or gangs domestically and some of the problems that have been identified, right?
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Ms. RENO. Some. I wouldn't quantify it as significant yet, but I think there is a pattern that they can learn from us on. I think the problem is more acute here, and I think they have more to learn form us in some respects than we have to learn
Mr. FATTAH. Okay, but when we hear you, as the Attorney General, and others talk about gangs, we alsothese motorcycle gangs are part of the Department's efforts to crack down on gangs, or are we just talking about gangs in terms of urban youth in big cities?
Ms. RENO. One of the things that you learn about, whether it be Michigan and is a small town in Michigan or a rural area, gangs take different forms. I'm just amazed at where they appear. And they're not just motorcycle gangs. They may be a drug organization that's a gang as well. I mean, it takes different forms, some more organized than others, but
Mr. FATTAH. Let me ask you about
Ms. RENO [continuing]. What we're trying to do in the Federal initiatives that we have underway, we're trying to work with State and local prosecutors, and where it involves more than one jurisdiction, where it cuts across State lines, we're trying to take effective effort to share the intelligence
Mr. FATTAH. Let me get my other question before the light goes off. There is also now with the skinhead groups a seemingly part of their either initiation as young people into this process, some desire to create or to carry out violent acts against persons of color. Is theso there is a concern there as we see the continuing growth of some of these groups. Is that something also that the Justice Department is concerning itself with?
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Ms. RENO. Very much so, and with other aspects as well. The U.S. Attorneys, the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, and the FBI have worked together to focus on these crimes that may be organized hate crimes and do everything we can to prevent it. And if it tragically happens, we will take very effective prosecutive action against it.
Mr. FATTAH. Thank you, and let me thank the chairman. If I could just mention one last thing, not by way of a question but, hopefully, something the Judiciary Committee will look into. It's the other thing that is of importis in thewhat we've seen in some of the drug trafficking is the use of juveniles moving them from State to State, sometimes against their will, to work in drug operations far away from their home, so that they can't extricate themselves from circumstances that they've found themselves in. And it would seem to me that one of the things that we might want to do is be more harsh in our getting at people who are turning these young people to criminal activity and not just after the young people themselves.
Ms. RENO. That's what we're trying to do in this legislation.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Fattah. Ms. Lofgren, you've been waiting patiently. Though you're not a member of the subcommittee, you've been an excellent member of the full committee, and you're recognized.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me just a minute to rejoin my subcommittee of last Congress and to talk about this issue.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I was pleased to be over at the White House yesterday with Senators and Members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats, going through issues that we need to address as a nation about juvenile crime, and I think so many of usis it an elephant? Is it, you know, is it all ears or is it a trunk? There are not just one thing that we need to do. I mean we need to do prevention. We need to do early intervention. We need rehabilitation. We need enforcement. And these are not alternatives. They all need to occur.
And so I'd like to address an issue, really, that is one of them, not because it's the only thing, because I think it's something that needs a little beefing up in our efforts, and that's the area of early intervention. I very much agree with the provision in the bill that provides for tracking and research. I think those of us who want to do good, which includes all of us, know that we need to be able to prove up our results so that they can be replicated in a very accountable fashion, and so I applaud that effort. But having said that, I know that we know more than we sometimes think we do know in this area already.
I know that Congressman Martinez this morning mentioned the Rand Institute report and something within that report that I have followed for many years, long before I was in Congress, as a member of local government with responsibility for juvenile justice, is the efforts underway in Orange County, what they are calling their 8 percent study. And, as you know, I think, Attorney General, they have a 50 percent recidivism rate in the pilot project which they have now tracked for several years.
The Rand Corporation indicates that for no more than $10,000 a year, you can effectively intervene early on at the very first sign of trouble when a young person comes in to contact with the criminal law as compared to $36,000, on average, to incarcerate a young person, which goes higherI think it's 60 or 70,000 dollars a year at Rykers' Island, for example.
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I guess my question is, using those figures from the Rand Institute report as at least a discussion amount of figures, we have enough money to intervene for 7,500 young people in this bill, and yet the amount of money into incarceration is much greater. Is this the right balance and, if not, I understand we have pilots and projects, but having spent 14 years in county government trying to scrape together funds for intervention programs, I'm mindful that incarceration is an entitlement program, whereas intervention and prevention is not. What are your thoughts about putting some resources to avoid the tidal wave that's about to hit us sitting in second grade today?
Ms. RENO. Well, first of all, I think you look at the tidal waves 7 years earlier. I think you look at all the building blocks of life and make sure that we build it the right way from the very beginning.
What is the correct balance? I think what we need to do is work together is these next weeks and come up with something solid that we can get past this Congress that can really have an impact on kids. In the conversation here today, listening to both sides, I think there is agreement on the need for balance. Where that balance is struck is another thing. I think everybody agrees that the dangerous offender has to be detained. What is important to meand the RAND study is fascinating because it picks out two piecesis how do we identify those blocks and what can we do with the limited dollars that we have?
As Mrs. McCarthy said, it's a matter of money. But it's also a matter of spending our money as wisely as possible. That's the reason we're trying to work with communities and say, instead of here's a pot of money with everybody running for it to see who can compete for grants, you come up with a plan that looks at what you've been able to assess through community initiatives, through the schools, through private sector, through all the services that are available, and let us work with you to build on that, to provide a comprehensive safety net for our children. I would like to work with you on it, the whole issue. In terms of what we can do in the Federal system for an assessment of the child's needs and an early intervention, I think will be so helpful.
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Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to join you this afternoon.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. You are quite welcome, Ms. Lofgren. There are just a few of us left, but I am going to yield to myself and some others for a second round briefly. Your indulgence, Madam Attorney General.
I wanted to ask you a couple of questions related to the locking device issue about guns in the bill that you sent up here yesterday. As I understand it, you are proposing to make it a crime for a gun dealer to sell any firearm that doesn't have a locking device. My understanding is that a locking device is not the same as a safety that we now have on most guns. Could you explain what a locking device that you envision is and how it is different from a safety on a gun?
Ms. RENO. My understanding is, and I'm not the expertI have never seen one, and I'll get you as much information as I can on itis that it locks the trigger. It's not a box, but it locks the trigger. It's sold for approximately $10 a piece with the gun, and prevents the operation of the weapon unless you have the key.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, I have a couple of samples here I have been shown. You said you haven't seen them. This is a long one. It looks like a device that has sort of a padlock feature on it. This is a plug type device. But apparently both of them have keys and they are locking devices. They are commonly sold in the marketplace today.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What concerns me about it is that you would require every gun that's sold to have one of these, which I believe are marketed today for child safety prevention purposes, with which you and I both would concur. But I am a little concerned that if you required everybody to have one of these devices and buy one of these or they sell one of them, that somebody at home might not be able to get one of them off quickly if they actually had a burglar into the home or they might have a whole bunch of these that they bought on their own and then they would be given another one or have to pay a 10 dollar tax, in essence to get it.
I am not saying I'm opposed to this. I am just trying to reason through with you because I want safety on these guns. I want kids prevented from unintentionally using them. But I am just raising a question since you haven't seen these devices. Until today, I hadn't seen them either. I wonder whether the proposal you have sent up may have some pragmatic flaws to it, that's all, on this one point. I just ask you to look at it, that's all.
Ms. RENO. Let me look at it, but let me remind you of what happened in our home State. It's a different situation, I grant you. But when we started talking about child safety seats, people said, oh, you can't get the child out of this. You can't do this, you can't do that, you can't do the other. If this is a problem, what happens. You shouldn't require it. You should just make them available. That has saved an awful lot of lives. What I would like to do is work with you. I'll be happy to meet with you. Let's see what we have, what the issues are, and explore it, because I haven't seen one before.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. That's fair enough. I think we ought to do that because I am all for safety. I just don't want to put something out there that doesn't work or has some unintentional consequence. That's all.
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The other question I have relates to the issue of a couple of these grant programs. You have grants for more prosecutors in here for juvenile purposes, a special program. I see there is another grant program that you've got for expediting and handling juvenile initiatives in the court system. But I don't see a grant program separately for detention facilities. As you know, in the bill I introduced, we did discuss incentive grants to allow the States to get money for detention facilities.
The reason I raise it is we've got lots of prisons out there right now, but the whole question of whether children should be in those facilities is a question. When I met with these juvenile judges yesterday, they were emphatic with me, one of the biggest problems they have got is that they don't have enough juvenile detention facilities separately for juveniles. It's a real big problem for them. It's one reason why they don't detain a lot of kids for lesser offenses, even overnight, as they used to do. Am I missing something in the bill? What do you think about that question?
Ms. RENO. Here is the theory on which we operated. In 1994, we addressed both ends of the system, policing up front and corrections in the prison system at the end. I have tried to make sure that those monies for the correctional side were available for youth facilities as well. Congress didn't appropriate what it authorized, but there are still significant dollars there, more dollars there than here. Why don't we again in these next weeks sit down, look at it, see what's available, try to perfect and work together to achieve a good balance.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I would certainly like to do that with you, because I do not see the States using the money for these juvenile detention facilities, with a couple of exceptions. Consequently, I can't tell you why. We may just need to work this out. But I see your point about it. In fact, the money we pool together for what's in the bill I introduced came really from what we saw as money not being used in two or three of these programs, prison grant programs, cops programs, several others, and thought that this was potentially still available under the Vice President's ''savings'' that were supposed to have been dedicated to your cause and mine in fighting crime. I think we ought to go out and make sure that the money is really used for that and that they don't send it over and use it for something else.
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Chairman Riggs, I would yield to you for a second round.
Mr. RIGGS. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. Let me also thank the Attorney General for being so generous with her time today. I appreciate it. I was remiss in my opening remarks or when I was sitting in the chair earlier not to introduce Shay Bilchek, who accompanies the Attorney General here today. Shay is the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the Department of Justice, and we look forward to working with him too on this very important piece of legislation.
Madam Attorney General, in your testimony, I'm looking here for the exact language, you propose giving Federal prosecutors the discretion to transfer juveniles to adult criminal court. I am assuming that's in reference to the very small proportion of juvenile crimes that are actually a violation of Federal law. But do you think in our legislation we should encourage State governments, State legislatures to give State prosecutors the discretion to transfer juveniles to adult criminal court?
Ms. RENO. A significant number of States have done just that. I remember, and I suspect you do too, I didn't like the federal government telling me what to do when I was at the State and local level. I suspect Congressman McCollum didn't like the Congress telling the legislature what to do. I think again, it's what we would like to do is to take the research and share it, show programs that are working. For example, in Jacksonville, Florida, the prosecutor has done a wonderful job of focusing on the serious criminals and getting them out of the system through Florida's system that already permits that. I think if we show what works, how it's done by example, that's the best persuader.
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Mr. RIGGS. It sounds like you have some concern that it would be improper expansion of federalism to encourage.
Ms. RENO. I would rather
Mr. RIGGS. Strongly encourage.
Ms. RENO. Rather, encourage by example. I think there's some
Mr. RIGGS. Fair enough.
Ms. RENO [continuing]. Some really good examples of what has happened when prosecutors have thoughtfully, carefully, reasonably used it the right way to get the truly dangerous offender out of the system.
Mr. RIGGS. I think that's very fair. Coming from you of course, it has a lot of credibility because of your own experience as a local prosecutor and district attorney for a number of years.
I also want to thank you for your response to my earlier question regarding supporting more Federal dollars going towards building more detention space for juveniles, more juvenile beds, if you will. It's an acute problem around the country. Just next door to Montgomery County, Maryland, a recent article talking about their facility in Rockville, which was built to house 35 juveniles from five counties, but now holds 70 to 80, twice that. The overcrowding problem is real. It's severe. I appreciate your support for more resources in that regard.
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I also appreciate your support for more resources to address the heavy caseloads which currently prevent probation officers from adequately monitoring juveniles, a big problem as I mentioned earlier in California.
I also want to commend two other areas for your consideration. One is intermediate sanctions between probation and secure confinement. This could mean restitution and community service. It can also mean perhaps the electronic home monitoring, more drug rehabilitation programs. But clearly, there's a need to take a look at that whole area of intermediate sanctions combined with prevention assistance in drug rehabilitation services.
And there's this whole area of mentoring. The reason I mention mentoring is because obviously it's part of current law, actually got a slight funding increase for this current Federal Fiscal Year. But I was struck by a recent study that was done, in fact, a recent panel discussion that included two people you know well, Bill Bennett and the recent police chief of New York City, Bill Bratton. I don't know if you are familiar with this particular panel that they had recently on youth crime, but basically they concluded that ''only adults can stop youth crime.'' Mentors, adult, positive adult role models makes all the difference in the world, particularly for poor minority children in embattled neighborhoods who are responsible for, I think we could all agree, a disproportionate number of felony crimes.
This article talks about a study that was done by an outfit called Public-Private Ventures. They looked at the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program, well known. I think the Senate Republicans proposed in their bill, did they not, Shay, that there be a significant funding increase to build more boys clubs, boys and girls clubs around the country. But they specifically looked at Big Brothers and Big Sisters and did a survey of 1,000 youngsters, ages 10 to 16, who are participating in that program, and who effectively have adult monitors. This study found that these kids in this program got 3 1/2 hours of adult attention per week, 3 weeks a month per year. That's 10 and a half hours a month. As a result of that positive adult contact and role modeling, first time drug use by minority youth went down 70 percent. Violence decreased by a third. Absenteeism from school decreased by half. Ten and a half hours making a big difference. Of course Bill Bennett went on to make the point that the average American adult watches 112 hours of television a month. He suggested maybe we need to reallocate our time to reflect our real priorities. I want to propose mentoring or commend the mentoring program to you.
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Lastly, so I don't run over too much, I do want to ask another specific question. That is about the core requirements, the current mandates. Have they outlived their usefulness given the fact that as you mentioned earlier, most if not all States receiving funds are in compliance or substantially in compliance. Many have State laws to address the same sort of due process and equal protection under the law concerns as the Federal mandates.
One other specific point that I am very sensitive amount, representing a predominantly rural district. That is the one core requirement regarding separation of adult and juvenile offenders is particularly hard for communities with rural and low population densities to comply with. These jurisdictions have particular problems meeting this requirement. I believe that we need to take a look at helping rural areas who struggle with these current requirements find other ways of addressing the concerns behind the requirement regarding separate facilities for juveniles and adults.
So I want to ask you if the core requirements have outlived their usefulness. Specifically again, about the one core requirement regarding detention and the separation of juveniles and adults in those jurisdictions, again, with rural and low population densities.
Ms. RENO. First of all, with respect to the mentoring programs, they are so vital. They can make such a difference. When I talk to young people who have been in trouble and asked them what could have been done to prevent it, the refrains are consistently the same. Two points: First, something to do in the afternoons and evenings that was positive and constructive; and second, somebody to talk to. Somebody who knew how to talk to young people. It doesn't help to have a mentor who can't relate. But somebody who knows when to give them a pat on the back and when to tell them that's enough. Those programs can work so effectively. I think that that's recognized. I mean that would be the type of program we would hope to support.
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Mr. RIGGS. Can I just interrupt to make the point that, because I think you and I are both in agreement, that you notice that there are two different types of mentoring. I guess there's a professional probation officer. But at that point in time, that young person has already come into contact with the juvenile justice system. That young person is in the juvenile justice system. You and I are both talking about adult volunteers, to a large extent, particularly when you talk about a program like Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Ms. RENO. Adult volunteers and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I have also seen it work now with community police officers who know how to relate to kids. The minister in the community can make a difference. It's just amazing what happens when we start thinking about what we can do with young people.
With respect to the core requirements, as I believe you are aware, what we try to do because I meet regularly with the National Association of Attorneys General, with local prosecutors. I heard from them the concerns about the core requirements being too rigid. Shayand I appreciate your recognition of what Shay has doneheld meetings with people across the country to find out what we could do. Through the regulations that have been issued, we have tried to address it so that it is more flexible, so that it is reasonable. But we recognize that these are still fundamental protections that should be a base for any juvenile justice system.
This legislation addresses the issue that you raised. It would provide additional flexibility to hold a juvenile in a jail in rural areas with the consent of juvenile parent and counsel, and with court approval and supervision. I think as we work together to address these issues, we can come up with something that maintains the fundamental protections, but does not create a situation that is worse than what we are trying to prevent.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Madam Attorney General.
Mr. Scott, you are recognized for a second round, 5 minutes.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Reno, I want to express my appreciation to you for putting up with us for as long as you have.
Ms. RENO. May I just tell you all, you all have been thanking me for being patient. I just appreciate the time that you have spent on this. As you know, it is a subject dear to my heart. It has been very heartwarming.
Mr. SCOTT. The other two gentlemen that are here have had subcommittee meetings that I've attended all over the country. They have put a substantial amount of time in the issue. We agree on some things and disagree on others. But I don't think you can say anything negative about the amount of time they have put into this issue. So I think we have two chairmen that have worked extremely hard on this issue.
Let me ask a couple of questions. I apologize for being in and out. I am trying to attend three other meetings at the same time. I have had to come in and out. At our hearing in California, the question of whether or not to open juvenile criminal records to the public came up. The prosecutor and a judge kind of wondered what effect it might have, positive or negative, whether the open records would make people more interested in the notoriety, and therefore have an adverse effect on crime or what. They kind of went back. I just asked on the list of things important to reduce juvenile crime, would this have been on your list. Both of them said it would not have been on their list of initiatives to focus on if your goal is to reduce crime.
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What is in this bill on opening juvenile records to the public. When I say public, I mean public. I don't mean sharing the information with the various law enforcement and social service agencies. I think there's probably more of a consensus on that being possible, sharing the information among agencies. The debate I think is whether or not the information ought to be public.
Ms. RENO. First of all, what it would propose with the Federal juvenile proceedings would be to openthe proceedings would normally be open to the public and maybe closed only upon motion where a judge determines closure is in the interest of justice or for good cause shown. It also includes a provision which would allow victims, their relatives and guardians, to be included when the public is otherwise excluded, unless again, the interest for justice or for good cause shown independently requires their exclusion.
Mr. SCOTT. Do we have any studies to show what effect that would have on the crime rate?
Ms. RENO. I don't know whether it would have effect on the crime rate. But what I have seen from my experience is that when people have had an opportunity to sit in, to observe the juvenile justice system, they become greater advocates for it. In addition, they have greater confidence in what the courts are trying to do. They recognize the court's limitations. I think it's justI just am supportive of it in terms of openness of government.
Mr. SCOTT. But in terms of reducing crime, that's not on anybody's
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Ms. RENO. I can't give you any statistics. If we have any, I will make them available. But I don't know of any.
Mr. SCOTT. Do you have any studies to contradict those studies that have shown that as you increase the number of juveniles treated as adults, you delay the trials, you reduce the time in a secure facility, and you increase crime with the additional crimes being committed sooner and more violent. Do you have any studies to contradict that information that we've been given?
Ms. RENO. I think there are some studies that have been done. I will furnish them to you. But I am aware of the study that you suggest. I am also aware that in certain situations I would, as a prosecutor in Miami, I would transfer a very dangerous offender to the adult court and watch them get a year in the State prison and be out in 20 to 30 percent of the sentence without having any program development, anything done in terms of job training, in terms of GEDs or anything. So I understand those statistics.
But Mr. Riggs raised the question, and I really think there's a chance here for us to talk together about how we create some common denominator. If you have a 15-year-old or a 16-year-old charged with a home invasion burglary, there is no supervision at home, his family life is chaotic, he's been in and out of trouble before. We need to develop a facility that is appropriate for that young person, that will detain him until we can address the public safety issues, but that also provides an opportunity for a GED, for job training, and then for after care as he comes back to the community with a chance of success.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I don't want to speak for Chairman McCollum when he talks about additional facilities. But when we are talking about additional facilities, we're talking, I think all of us, about programs that can work for children and that can make a difference. So as we talk about facilities and as we talk about the monies being spent, we may be spending too much money on maximum security prisons. That's not the issue today. What we have got to do is work together to design facilities for that offender that you would not want back out on the street immediately, but that we bring them back to the street when we can, as soon as we can, with the chance of success.
Mr. SCOTT. I would hope we would do that as early as possible when it can make a difference, rather than wait for the person to learn how to be a drive-by shooter, robber, and rapist, and all that.
Ms. RENO. You and I are in total accord.
Mr. SCOTT. With them as early as possible. Reading through the H.R. 810, am I right that most of the provisions are for those prosecuted in Federal court?
Ms. RENO. The substantive provisions are those prosecuted in Federal court, which go to a very limited few.
Mr. SCOTT. You have provisions which create or amend Federal statutes so that it would only affect those prosecuted in Federal court?
Ms. RENO. That's correct.
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Mr. SCOTT. Now how many people are we talking about?
Ms. RENO. Very few.
Mr. SCOTT. I heard 200 as a number, including Native Americans.
Ms. RENO. That may well be.
Mr. SCOTT. Well I mean isn't that just a small part of the problem? We go through the first seven, first six chapter titles, how much of it would affect State court proceedings?
Ms. RENO. One of the prime initiatives is the provision for youth violence courts, which would provide a $50 million grant. I have had regular conferences with the State Conference of Chief Justices. They are very anxious to address this issue, as Chairman McCollum and Chairman Riggs have pointed out. The judges are the ones that are saying we don't have facilities. We don't haveour calendars are overwhelmed. We just don't have anything.
This money, the youth violence courts would not be Federal. That would be State court initiatives. It may be a drug court. It may be a gun court. It may be a special program designed by the courts to address the issue of the serious offender, to address the issue of the person who is coming into the system with all the danger signs, so that we take steps to avoid it.
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Mr. SCOTT. Is that $15 million
Ms. RENO. Fifty, 50.
Mr. SCOTT. Fifty million dollars for court services
Ms. RENO. Court programs.
Mr. SCOTT. Court programs.
Ms. RENO. For example
Mr. SCOTT. You're not talking about, because I mean if you divide it up in a city the size of Newport News, you are talking about you could hire, which is 150,000 to 165,000 people, one prosecutor would be, after you divide it out, about what we would be entitled to if we spent it on prosecutors. But if you spent $50,000 on beefing up the support services, it might actually make a difference. Is the money to gocould a State use up its money hiring prosecutors?
Ms. RENO. They could use it. It would not be the State's. These would be direct grants that the court monies would go directly to the State court system.
Mr. SCOTT. The State court system.
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Ms. RENO. Yes. The prosecutor would apply, in most instances the State prosecutor. It would be someone like me when I was the State prosecutor for Miami. If I were a prosecutor right now what I would do would be to apply for one prosecutor, a probation officer. I would go to Boston right now and figure out what they had done with the resources they had to focus on the serious offenders and take appropriate steps with regards to them, but focus on those first coming into the system with intensive probation efforts to keep them from further troubles.
Mr. SCOTT. I think Mr. Riggs and I both heard the overwhelming caseloads and what a probation officer can not do because of the overwhelming caseload, and what they can do if they reduce it. So if it's in services, I think it may go muchmight do a lot more good than if it's just for more prosecutors.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your indulgence.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. You are quite welcome, Mr. Scott. I think we have probably come to the end of the questioning, unless Mr. Riggs and I want to go back over anything. Before I conclude the hearing, ask the chairman if he has any further questions he would like to ask of the attorney general.
Mr. RIGGS. Mr. Chairman, and my good friend Bobby Scott, I could stay here all afternoon into the evening.
I just again thank the attorney general and her excellent staff, and say that we very much look forward to working with you. Chairman McCollum and I have agreed that we're going to take a joint approach. Hopefully we'll both be able to mark up legislation which can then be merged into one bill through the rules process on the House floor. But at every step along the way, we want and welcome your assistance and your good counsel, and want again make this a bipartisan bill to the extent possible.
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Ms. RENO. I am available whenever you say.
Mr. RIGGS. Great. Thank you again for all your time today.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Chairman Riggs and I, as I indicated at the beginning, are longtime acquaintances. I am really excited and looking forward to working with him as we develop with you, General Reno, a good juvenile justice bill.
One comment I would make in looking over this, I didn't have a question about it and didn't want to raise it earlier, but it would be helpful, on the drug testing provision that you've got in your bill with regard to mandating restriction on prison grant funds unless the States establish a drug testing program, if we could get some kind of a cost to the States analysis on it. Maybe you already have that.
Ms. RENO. We have some information that we would like to share as soon as possible with the staff. As you may know, we have been working with the administrative office of the United States courts on drug testing in pilot districts.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Yes.
Ms. RENO. Because I feel very strongly that you catch them right at arrest. You have a much greater leverage.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Absolutely.
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Ms. RENO. For a long time, particularly when I was in Miami, we weren't able to do so much because the tests were so expensive. The technology is becoming vastly improved. They can be done more accurately for a lot less cost. They are becoming a much more useful tool for that reason. So we'll work with you in
Mr. MCCOLLUM. The only reason I ask is so that we could get those costs. I can envision States coming back to us saying we can't accept your prison grant money because this condition is too expensive. Well, we need to have something to be able to say it isn't that expensive. If it is of course, then that is a policy problem for us.
Ms. RENO. We'll be prepared.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you. Again, thank you for spending the time with us. I'm sure we'll be back with you. We have got to produce a bill. We will early. Thank you very much. This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:34 p.m. the subcommittees adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. FRED UPTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to be here today to discuss the issue of juvenile justice. I appreciate the opportunity to address this issue with our nation's highest ranking law enforcement officialAttorney General Janet Reno.
It is very disconcerting to review the statistics on juvenile crime. Both nationally and in communities in my district, many forms of juvenile crime are on the rise. In fact, I recently received news of a double murder of teens in a small, but very troubled city in my districtBenton Harbor. According to reports, the teens were killed in what was described as a ''drug-infested'' neighborhood.
In Michigan, crime rates have fallen over the past 3 years for every age group except juveniles. Over the past decade the juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes has increased 36%; arson rates have increased 56%; aggravated assault 71% and the murder rate has increased 160%. Fortunately, the state has responded to these tragic statistics, and I am pleased that last year Governor Engler signed a strong juvenile justice bill calling for accountability from youths.
It is both frustrating and disheartening to know that far too many of our youths can not find a safe havenschools and neighborhoods are ridden with gangs, drugs, and weapons. While I believe that communities should have the flexibility to design their own solutions, local officials do at times feel overwhelmed with dramatic and escalating crime cases. It is for that reason that I have assembled a coalition of local, state and federal officials to address these serious issues. I'm also working with community ministers because I feel they are very much a part of the solution.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Curbing the rise of juvenile crime requires a multi-faceted approach. I believe that prevention programs are a crucial component to stemming this problem, and the ''carrot'' needs to be accompanied by a ''stick.'' For instance, under Governor Engler's ''Safe Schools'' initiative, each school would be required to develop community-based safe school violence prevention plans. But schools would also be permitted to expel a student who is found guilty of an assaultive misdemeanor or felony. I support having the programs in place to assist youth before they find themselves in serious trouble, but they also need to know that their actions have consequences.
One component of fighting juvenile crime, that was included in the 1994 crime bill, is drug courts. I have two successful drug courts in my districtone in St. Joseph and one in Kalamazoo. I learned just yesterday that another pool of money$16 millionhas been released and that $10,000 is going to the drug court in Kalamazoo and will be used to develop a juvenile drug court.
I firmly believe that we need a comprehensive approach to fighting this problem and should look at the whole picture. Education, parental involvement, youth activities, and accountability are just a few of the important elements of this challenging issue.
In the long run, our work today will have far-reaching effects on the quality of life for our neighborhoods and children in years to come. I'm looking forward to assisting in this effort.
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 1 TO 34 HERE
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The appendix is being held in the committee's file.]
ADMINISTRATION'S ANTI-GANG AND YOUTH VIOLENCE INITIATIVE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
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FEBRUARY 26, 1997
Committee on the Judiciary
Serial No. 91
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Serial No. 105119
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
and the Committee on Education and the Workforce
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTH, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Crime
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida, Chairman
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
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PAUL J. MCNULTY, Chief Counsel
GLENN R. SCHMITT, Counsel
DANIEL J. BRYANT, Counsel
NICOLE R. NASON, Counsel
DAVID YASSKY, Minority Counsel
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania Chairman
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin Vice Chairman
MARGE ROUKEMA, New Jersey
HARRIS W. FAWELL, Illinois
CASE BALLENGER, North Carolina
BILL BARRETT, Nebraska
PETER HOEKSTRA, Michigan
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
MICHAEL N. CASTLE, Delaware
SAM JOHNSON, Texas
JAMES M. TALENT, Missouri
JAMES C. GREENWOOD, Pennsylvania
JOE KNOLLENBERG, Michigan
FRANK RIGGS, California
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
DAVID M. McINTOSH, Indiana
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHARLIE NORWOOD, Georgia
RON PAUL, Texas
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JOHN E. PETERSON, Pennsylvania
FRED UPTON, Michigan
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia
VAN HILLEARY, Tennessee
MIKE PARKER, Mississippi
WILLIAM (BILL) CLAY, Missouri
GEORGE MILLER, California
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
MAJOR R. OWENS, New York
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
PATSY T. MINK, Hawaii
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
TIM ROEMER, Indiana
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
LYNN C. WOOLSEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMER-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
CHAKA FATTAH, Pennsylvania
RUBÉN HINOJOSA, Texas
CAROLYN McCARTHY, New York
JOHN F. TIERNEY, Massachusetts
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRON KIND, Wisconsin
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
HAROLD E. FORD Jr., Tennessee
DENNIS J. KUCINICH, Ohio
JO-MARIE ST MARTIN, General Counsel
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families
FRANK RIGGS, California, Chairman
MICHAEL N. CASTLE, Delaware, Vice Chairman
SAM JOHNSON, Texas
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
RON PAUL, Texas
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES C. GREENWOOD, Pennsylvania
DAVID M. McINTOSH, Indiana
JOHN E. PETERSON, Pennsylvania
FRED UPTON, Michigan
VAN HILLEARY, Tennessee
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
GEORGE MILLER, California
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
MAJOR R. OWENS, New York
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPATSY T. MINK, Hawaii
TIM ROEMER, Indiana
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
DENNIS J. KUCINICH, Ohio
LYNN SELMSER, Professional Staff Member
C O N T E N T S
February 26, 1997
McCollum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida, and chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary
Riggs, Hon. Frank, a Representative in Congress From the State of California, and chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Committee on Education and the Workforce
Reno, Hon. Janet, Attorney General of the United States
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Reno, Hon. Janet, Attorney General of the United States: Prepared statement
Material submitted for the record