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THE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PREVENTION ACT

OF 1967

THURSDAY, MAY 4, 1967

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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
GENERAL SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 9:45 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Roman C. Pucinski (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Pucinski, Carey, Hawkins, Hathaway, Mink, Gurney, and Scherle.

Present also: Margaret B. Sugg, Director, and Mattie Maynard, clerk.

Mr. PUCINSKI. The committee will come to order.

In starting our third day of the hearings on the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1967, I should like to call attention of the members of the committee to an excellent editorial which appeared in the current issue of Life magazine, and which I think puts into perspective the enormity of the problem that confronts this committee in trying to get this legislation through the Congress, and the enormity of the problem that confronts the Nation if we do not pass this type of legislation.

The Life magazine editorial quite properly points out

It is possible for an American citizen to be tried secretly and convicted of a crime without ever hearing the charges against him; with no chance to face his accusers or to have a lawyer represent him; and with no right to a jury trial when the sentence may mean years behind bars. All this can happen if the accused happens to be, legally, a juvenile.

At the turn of the century adults, with the best of intentions, took away some substantial civil rights from youth. In exchange, they wrote into a series of state laws the premise that juveniles in trouble or abandoned become the wards of the court. And in return for that surrender of rights, the courts, and the state welfare agencies, would take responsibility for treating, rehabilitating or simply caring for the juvenile.

In some states and cities the bargain has worked out well. But there are important exceptions, according to Chief Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He says, “We look around us and see the promise broken at every turn. It is full of cant and hypocrisy.”

The worry about juvenile justice is part of the increased concern about juvenile crime (youths of 15 to 17 have the highest arrest rate of any age bracket). The increase is greatest in the slums, but even the wealthiest suburbs have more and more delinquency problems.

What happens to those who get into trouble? Often, the juvenile judge has no place to turn for the treatment that he should be guaranteeing to the youth in his charge. Deserted children and others who require psychiatric help are lumped in with hard-core delinquents. There never seems to be enough money for the facilities or the people to help them. Worst off of all are those jurisdic

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tions that simply have no place to treat juveniles. Youths are either released to their parents or the judge "waives” his guardianship and passes the youth along to an adult court. Last year some 600,000 youths appeared before juvenile courts. And 100,000 of them are now doing time in adult prisons-a good way to guarantee that many of them will be in and out of jails for the rest of their lives.

Judge Bazelon and the growing number of critics of the juvenile court system may soon get a prestigious ally. Last year the Supreme Court ruled on an appeal stemming from a juvenile court case—the first time in the 68-year history of juvenile courts that the Supreme Court has agreed to look into and to review their actions.

Justice Fortas, speaking for the majority of the Court, found that "While there can be no doubt of the original laudable purpose of juvenile courts, studies and critiques in recent years raise serious questions as to whether actual performance measures well enough against theoretical purpose to make tolerable the immunity of the process from the reach of constitutional guarantees applicable to adults. . . . There is evidence, in fact, that there may be grounds for concern that the child receives the worst of both worlds; that he gets neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children.”

The Supreme Court is expected soon to rule on the case of Gerald Gault, an Arizona boy serving six years of detention for allegedly making lewd phone calls (a crime for which the maximum adult sentence is two months). He was found guilty after a series of maneuvers that violated every definition of "due process." Answering the state's plea that the boy, then 15, had not been convicted of a crime but detained for delinquency, Justice Fortas commented, "you can call it a crime or a not-crime, or you can call it a horse. He's still deprived of his liberty."

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Gault boy, juvenile court justices will be on notice that they must uphold their end of the bargain that is implicit in juvenile law. And the justices will also have to insist that their states provide proper facilities for their charges.

Too many youths in difficulty are convinced that the auld adult world wants only to "get" them—or, at best, to hide their problems and consider them solved. Injustices in the name of justice create in their victims a lasting grudge against society. A re-examination of juvenile justice won't solve all problems of delinquency, but it is an essential place to start.

I might add in starting this third day of hearings that if, indeed, the Supreme Court should rule for Gerald Gault when that decision comes down, there could well be chaos in every single community of this country. No community of America will be spared the great problem of trying to provide adequate facilities for juveniles who have waived their constitutional rights of due process in order to place themselves in the understanding hands of a rehabilitating agency.

a I say to my colleagues on this committee that I consider this legislation one of the most important bills to come before this Congress, if for no other reason of the problem that may result from the Supreme Court decision. I do not think we can sit back and wait until the Supreme Court acts and then try to catch up by sitting back and only setting the communities help themselves.

I think the legislation is necessary now. I have asked our staff to call in next week a series of juvenile judges. We also want to have the U.S. Attorney General here because I believe that this aspect brought to our attention by the Life editorial focuses the need and the purpose of this legislation on a national level.

I invite my colleagues to read the editorial, and then I invite my colleagues to ponder the full significance of the legislation before us. I think when we place it in that perspective, when we realize that within a very short period of time communities all over this country may have to make a massive effort to provide the kind of assistance that is contemplated in this legislation in order to meet the test of due

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process, I think that we then see how accurate and indisputable was the statement the other day that if anything, the legislation before us just does not go far enough.

Mr. Scherle?
Mr. SCHERLE. No statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. Hawkins ?
Mr. HAWKINS. No statement.
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. Gurney?
Mr. GURNEY. No statement, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. PUCINSKI. Our first witness this morning is Mr. Bertram Beck, the director of Mobilization for Youth, New York City.

Mr. Beck was a consultant to the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. He is a consultant in the Office of Economic Opportunity. He was a former member of the Demonstration Review Panel, Office of Juvenile Delinquency, Youth Development, HEW.

Formerly, he was a consultant of juvenile delinquency for the Children's Bureau, HEW. In the course of the previous 2 days of hearings, Mr. Beck's Mobilization for Youth has been mentioned several times. I am sure we will all be very interested in the testimony of Mr. Beck this morning.

STATEMENT OF BERTRAM BECK, DIRECTOR, MOBILIZATION FOR

YOUTH, INC., NEW YORK, N.Y.

Mr. Pucinski. I might state, Mr. Beck, that I regret that our colleague from New York, Mr. Carey, is not here. It is my hope that he will be able to join us before the morning is over. There have been some serious questions raised about the effectiveness of Mobilization for Youth,

You people, on the one hand, have made statements that your program has been a prototype for many programs across the country. There are those on this committee who take serious issue with that.

We certainly welcome your testimony this morning.

Mr. PUCINSKI. Why don't you proceed now in any manner you wish for a brief opening summary of your views and then we will go right into questioning.

Mr. Beck. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

I would like to address myself to the bill before you and make certain reference to our experience at Mobilization for Youth as it bears upon this bill.

First, I want to say that I am entirely in support of this measure. I think it is the next logical step following the other measures that the Federal Government has taken in order to combat juvenile delinquency in the United States.

The most significant thing out of Mobilization's 5 years of demonstration research, I believe, is the results in terms of this one neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York City.

In this neighborhood between 1962 and 1965, we experienced a decrease in delinquency of 9.7 percent. Meanwhile, comparable neighborhoods in the city of New York were experiencing an increase of 8.9 percent.

Mr. PUCINSKI. Can you say to what extent has there been a change in population in that neighborhood ? Have there been large redevelopment projects, land-clearing projects? Has there been a substantial increase in population? When you state that there is a decrease in juvenile crime in your neighborhood as against an increase in other neighborhoods, does that show really a decrease?

Mr. BECK. If you take, Mr. Pucinski, the entire area of the Lower East Side, there has been a substantial change in population through the development of middle-income housing and public housing which now occupies about 20 percent of the land area.

Mr. PUCINSKI. Have low-income families been displaced in this process?

Mr. BECK. Indeed, they have. However, Mobilization serves a 67block area which includes, except for a minor part, not the housing projects, but mostly the dilapidated 30-, 50-, and 100-year-old, fivestory tenaments which house the new migrants into New York, primarily the Puerto Ricans and Negroes.

The particular area we serve has not been substantially influenced by this new construction.

Mr. PUCINSKI. What has been the main thrust of your program?

Mr. BECK. The main thrust of our program insofar as delinquency has been concerned has been the effort to relate youngsters with police records, youngsters from families on public assistance, to .employment.

Mobilization runs a substantial employment program, and I believe that this program has taught us a great deal.

Would you like me to continue ! ?
Mr. PUCINSKI. Yes.

Mr. BECK. Mobilization's innovations have formed, I believe it is correct to say, a model that has been imitated throughout the country. For example, Mobilization was the first organization to offer legal services for the poor in addition to, of course, what Legal Aid has been doing for generations.

Mr. CAREY. May I interrupt at that point, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. PUCINSKI. Mr. Carey.

Mr. CAREY. I know from long experience and personal observation the efforts made by Mr. Beck.

In regard to services, what are the services supplied to those who get into difficulty with the law? I want to check something which I read briefly in the public print.

Recently there was a demonstration on the war in Vietnam that took place in a public place of worship, St. Patrick's Cathedral, during the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Some 20 or more demonstrators stood up in the seats of the cathedral, moved to the center aisle during the sacrifice, and blasphemed the edifice by raising placards and carrying on a demonstration.

They were removed by the police because this is in violation of the ordinance of the city and State of New York. It is a clear, patent violation.

I read that half of these demonstrators were going to be receiving legal services through funds appropriated to the legal services program by the Federal Government under the aegis of Mobilization for Youth.

Would you give me clarification on that?

Mr. Beck. This is correct, Mr. Carey. Our mandate is to provide legal service for anyone who falls within the poverty category.

Mr. CAREY. How do they fall within the poverty category? Are they students ?

Mr. BECK. They had various occupations.

Mr. CAREY. Were there students among the ones you gave service to?

Mr. BECK. I am sorry, Mr. Carey, I don't know whether there was a student there or not. There may have been. I know there was someone who had been a social worker. There was someone who had been a teacher. But their income at the present time, and this was reviewed by regional OEO after this article appeared in the press, was clearly below the OEO standard. · In other words, there was $3,000 for a family of four with $600 additional income for each additional child.

Mr. CAREY. Are these people capable of earning more money if they chose to work instead of spending their time demonstrating?

Mr. BECK. Mr. Carey, I can't really give you an honest answer to that. Whether a person is capable of earning more money I think is a matter of judgment; my own judgment would be yes, if they had organized themselves differently, if they had a different view of themselves in society they would be capable of earning more money.

But these were people whose life experience led them to the act. I would yield to no one in my scorn of such behavior, and yet I certainly believe they were entitled to legal defense, and that they should have, when they appear in court, the same legal defense that any other citizen should have.

Mr. CAREY. I am not against the theory of a legal defense. I am strongly committed to the historical presumption of innocence on behalf of anyone.

But I want to see to it that we refine the language and guidelines, whatever else we have to do by regulation, in this act and other acts, to make certain that we do not use Federal funds in such a way that we give a color of approval to this kind of happening.

My deep concern is that by doing so we may implant in the minds of young and impressionable people that this is acceptable behavior, that even the Federal Government thinks it is worthy of some degree of respectable assistance.

I think the importance here is to find out whether or not, by personal choice, a man places himself in the poverty category.

If he is a teacher, I would like to see him teaching and earning money doing the teaching, because we need more teachers than demonstrators today.

I am not against the demonstration, but anyone who has the high calling of teacher I think should be in that profession and doing a job. That would also apply to one who is a trained social worker. A trained social worker or a trained teacher who is earning less than $3,000 a year, who places himself in the poverty category, leads me to believe that maybe we better refine our language so that we really help those who are not capable of helping themselves, but not make the poverty program or the delinquency program a refuge for those who are experimenting with their own lives in some form of technique such as this.

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