Mike Leavitt on Crime
Director of the E.P.A.; former Republican UT Governor
The bills [Congress is working on] support many effective juvenile justice strategies, including incarceration for anyone who knowingly provides a firearm to a minor for illegal use, and additional penalties for those who illegally sell or transfer firearms or engage in drug trafficking at or near a school site, park, or other area where children and youth congregate. While many of your goals are laudable and Governors support them, we do not approve of the various mandates, restrictions, and fund set-asides in H.R. 1501 and 254. States are in the best position to determine penalties for juvenile crime. States need more, not less flexibility to deal with delinquent behavior. Flexibility is essential to allow states to continue to find out what works, developing “best practices” on proven programs, and learning from each other. Federal mandates and one-size-fits-all prescriptions short-circuit experimentation and innovation.
The nation’s Governors are deeply concerned about attempts to expand federal criminal law into traditional state criminal justice system functions. This will contribute little to reducing crime. Moreover, it undermines state and local anti-crime efforts. Governors also believe that federal concurrent jurisdiction in criminal justice efforts will be used by the federal government to impose additional burdensome mandates on state and local crime control and law enforcement officials, especially with regard to federal authority over juvenile offenders. One example is the mandate that states establish and maintain federally-prescribed “Juvenile Criminal History Record” data banks. The pending bills are not clear on what information must be provided to and will remain in the national data bases, who will have access to the data, how long the data will be maintained and made available, and how the data will be used. We also affirm states’ rights under our federal system to control access to their own data.
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