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May 7, 1997

H.R. 3 - Juvenile Crime Control Act of 1997
(McCollum (R) Florida and five cosponsors)

Enactment of comprehensive legislation to address youth and gang violence and drug use is a top Administration priority. Accordingly, on February 25, 1997, the Department of Justice transmitted to Congress the Anti-gang and Youth Violence Act of 1997, which was introduced as H.R. 810 by Representative Schumer. The Administration's proposal was designed in conjunction with law enforcement officials around the country, including those in Boston, Massachusetts, who have implemented balanced and comprehensive programs that successfully fight youth and gang violence. Those programs combine elements of enforcement and prosecution with targeted and selective prevention and intervention efforts. Unfortunately, H.R. 3 fails to embody such an approach and, consequently, misses an important opportunity to fight and prevent juvenile crime. Therefore, the Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 3.

H.R. 3 is neither comprehensive nor balanced because it fails to include:

  • a requirement that every Federally-licensed firearms dealer provide a child safety lock with each firearm sold;

  • a prohibition on firearm possession by juveniles adjudicated delinquent of offenses that would have been felonies if committed by an adult (and thus barring the offender from gun possession);

  • targeted funding to ensure that local prosecutors can hire additional prosecutors for gang-related crimes;

  • targeted funding, beginning in FY 1998, to ensure that localities can establish court-based programs specifically to address issues of juvenile and youth violence;

  • greater flexibility for prosecutors in prosecuting juveniles as adults;

  • provisions to protect witnesses who help prosecute gangs and other violent offenders;

  • tough drug enforcement provisions to increase penalties for selling drugs to kids, using kids to sell drugs, and selling drugs in schools;

  • provisions requiring drug testing of violent offenders and authorizing use of prison grant funds for drug testing, treatment, and supervision of incarcerated offenders;

  • tough penalties for possessing firearms while committing violent or drug crimes; and

  • targeted funding, beginning in FY 1998, for effective prevention programs that target at-risk youth and keep schools open to provide young people with alternatives to criminal activity.
The Administration believes that none of these elements can be omitted if a successful, comprehensive effort to curb youth violence is to be achieved. The Administration will work with Congress throughout the legislative process to ensure passage of legislation that will have a meaningful impact on juvenile crime.

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