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JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PREVENTION AND CONTROL
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1967
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 422, New Senate Office Building, Senator Joseph S. Clark (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Members present: Senators Clark, Nelson, and Pell.
Senator CLARK. The subcommittee will resume its session. We are happy to welcome a member of the subcommittee who has stepped down temporarily from the bench, Senator Nelson of Wisconsin, to introduce our first witness, the Honorable Bronson C. La Follette, attorney general of the State of Wisconsin. We are happy to have you, Senator. STATEMENT OF HON. GAYLORD NELSON, A U.S. SENATOR FROM
THE STATE OF WISCONSIN Senator Nelson. Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to introduce to the committee the attorney general of the State of Wisconsin, Bronson La Follette, who comes from one of America's most distinguished political families. Bronson La Follette as attorney general has concerned himself about the whole broad area of law enforcement and the problems of juvenile delinquency. He is well qualified to address himself to this problem. And I am pleased to present him to the chairman-and as a member of the subcommittee, I am pleased to welcome him here to present his testimony.
Senator CLARK. Thank you very much, Senator. Happy to have you stay with us if you can while the attorney general testifies.
Mr. Attorney General, we are very happy indeed to get the benefit of your thinking on this very complex problem of juvenile delinquency, which we are in the process of studying.
I have had an opportunity to scan your very provocative testimony. With your permission, I will have it printed in full in the record at this point, and ask you perhaps to direct your attention primarily to the two bills which are before us, the Senate bill which, as you know, is the administration bill, and then the bill passed by the House. And I would be happy if you would address yourself to the question of which of those two bills you think should be the basis for the bill this committee reports out, if either, and then what changes or additions you think
would be desirable for this subcommittee to make when we come to mark up one or the other of the bills, or to write our own clean bill.
I am particularly interested in getting your thinking on the fiscal phases of this problem.
One of the witnesses last week rather provocatively suggested that while the administration bill called for $25 million authorization for continuing the work which has been going on at the Federal level with respect to juvenile delinquency, I think, since 1961, he thought we ought to add another zero to the authorization and make it $250 million.
You are aware of the difficult problems which confront our Federal budget, and the distinct philosophical clash, owing to the enormous expenditures we are making on the war in Vietnam—the problem of what as good citizens and responsible Senators we should do in connection with almost desperate domestic needs in the light of all this.
And this is just an invitation to you to give us the benefit of your thinking as to what you would do if you were sitting up here where
STATEMENT OF HON. BRONSON C. LA FOLLETTE, ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN
Mr. La FOLLETTE. Thank you, Senator. I will try to direct my remarks responding to the questions which you have put to me.
Specifically, I will discuss which of the two bills do I think most properly meet the problems presented by juvenile delinquency in America, which portions of the bills should be incorporated into a bill
a if this subcommittee were to draft its own bill, and, also, some of the fiscal phases of the proposal.
I should start out by saying, in response to your question, that I think that there are parts of both bills which I think are responsible proposals to deal with this problem, and I think that a meaningful program could combine some of the aspects of both of these bills.
First of all, it seems to me that the administration bill, which is S. 1248, properly provides for planning and technical assistance, which seems to me absolutely essential to the development of programs to meet this growing problem in America today.
Senator CLARK. Did I understand you to say you think planning is essential?
Mr. La FOLLETTE. Yes. It is.
Senator CLARK. And we should keep that in the bill, despite the fact that the House cut it out?
Mr. LA FOLLETIE. Definitely. This problem is of such great magnitude, and the resources available to State and local governments are so small, that adequate provision for planning—to encourage comprehensive planning at the State and local level-is absolutely essential. And I think that this provision should be put back into any bill which the Senate has for consideration.
It seems to me also that under our present juvenile system, not enough attention is given, and not enough resources of the community and the State are devoted to preventive measures, to eliminate delinquency once the attention of the authorities is directed to a potential delinquent.
We have a very elaborate system and devote much resources at the State and local level toward institutionalizing and rehabilitating a juvenile offender once he is declared to be a delinquent. But a great saving and a great amount of contribution toward solving this problem I think could come from developing programs at the local level to incorporate private social agencies as well as public social agencies of the community on a cooperative basis to assist those young offenders in the community at the time that their troubles first are brought to the attention of the authorities. And by "authorities” I mean to include schools and other social institutions, as well as the police and the courts.
Senator CLARK. Are you familiar with the Youth Study Center in Philadelphia ?
Mr. LA FOLLETIE. No, I am not.
Senator CLARK. We have been trying to do that there for some time. We have had a very competent director, Dr. Preston Sharp. I think they have done a lot of good work. The difficulty seems to be it gets so overcrowded, you have to have them sleep on the floor. And in that situation, the problem of the climate and the atmosphere in which you try to do your rehabilitative work becomes very difficult indeed.
We have found there also almost a frightening shortage of skilled manpower. Have you run into that in Wisconsin?
Mr. LA FOLLETTE. That is correct. We have in some areas of the rural
At our main juvenile institution in Wisconsin, there has been a 400percent increase in the number of juvenile persons institutionalized in the last 10 years.
Senator CLARK. You don't have a particular minority race problem, except in Milwaukee, do you?
Mr. LA FOLLETTE. That is correct. We have in some areas of the rural parts of the State—we have a problem with our Indian population. But it is certainly not comparable to minority problems in many of our other Eastern industrial States.
Senator CLARK. What can you tell us about this riot in Lake Geneva, which I gather was largely a middle-class situation. This rather startled me when I first heard about it.
Mr. La FOLLETTE. Yes, this did start le everyone in Wisconsin as well as in the rest of the Nation.
I think that perhaps a little bit-almost too much attention was devoted to it.
Senator CLARK. I think that is another problem, don't you? It seems to me every time some youngster, possibly an exhibitionist, maybe a weird-looking character, gets into trouble with the law it is on the front page of every paper. The AP and UPI seem to gloat on that sort of stuff. They vastly exaggerate the percentage of individuals who engage in disorderly conduct. In connection with this last march on Washington, I think the press was wicked in its exaggeration.
Was this part of what happened at Lake Geneva?
Mr. LA FOLLETTE. Well, there is no question about the fact that the problems which occurred in Lake Geneva were significant in terms of the community involved and the serious damage which occurred. I think that the attention that was given to it by the press was justified under the circumstances.
What I meant to say was perhaps there has been too much attention given to some of it-or trying to figure out some of the underlying social, or sociological factors involved here.
Let me describe the situation briefly. It has been building up over the past few years.
Young people have been gathering in Lake Geneva which is a small resort community, a short distance from the Illinois border—a population roughly of 2,000 to 3,000. Many residents of Chicago have summer homes in the area. And it is a very popular summer vacation land for wealthy residents of Chicago.
Young people from northern Illinois and suburbs of Chicago have been gathering annually at Lake Geneva for the Fourth of July weekend. And the word, I guess, began spreading out farther and farther each year as more young people gathered there, and I think that the events which occurred are similar sociologically to the traditional college spree that takes place in Fort Lauderdale on an annual basis and causes a great deal of concern for that community.
At this particular time, howerer, 2,000 to 3,000 young people converged on this small community.
Law-enforcement personnel of the community was simply completely incapable of controlling the situation. Beer was brought in by these young students, or young people. Many of them were under age. drinking beer illegally, unlawfully. And without really anything for these young people to do on a constructive recreational basis-their energies and their vitality and their attention was drawn to destructive acts, and very quickly the situation became extremely troublesome for law enforcement. Violence occurred. Malicious destruction of property in all parts of the city. And the local police were unable to handle it. The National Guard had to be called out to quell the disturbances. Many arrests were made. The community really has never recovered from it yet. The attention that was given to it in the Nation's press had an effect on the economy of the area as a resort community for the rest of the summer, as a matter of fact.
Senator CLARK. Did you get any sort of appraisal of the background of the ringleaders, or were there any ringleaders?
Mr. LA FOLLETTE. Of the 108 or so who were arrested by the local police, at least 10 were found to have had past arrest records in their home communities. Some of those records were relatively lengthy and serious. There were also at least a dozen other known troublemakers present who were not arrested. Only 11 percent were from Wisconsin. The rest came from northern Illinois and the Chicago area. Only 40 percent of the total persons arrested were high school or college students. The rest were primarily unskilled workers. Although many did come from communities known to be middle or upper class, I think this last statistic raises a serious question as to whether you can characterize it as a “middle class” riot.
It posed a real problem for law enforcement in Wisconsin. I think it demonstrated the fact that at the present time we do not have an adequate means of dealing with disorders of this type that occur in a small community.
Although we developed a plan for mutual aid of surrounding counties to help out on an emergency basis, if this were to occur in the future, we still do not have the kind of law-enforcement personnel who are trained in riot and crowd control, who can move in on short notice to a situation like this in sufficient numbers to maintain law and order.
The use of the National Guard under these circumstances is a last resort, really, and it is a burden on the Guard to be called in to such circumstances.
If this is to continue, I think that law enforcement in Wisconsin should try and develop a procedure whereby this kind of thing can be dealt with with the type of personnel that is necessary.
Senator CLARK. This raises a question regarding how you get at the heart of this problem, and how you deal with these young people. You have had some problems in Milwaukee, too, recently. I would like to get your thinking for the record as to what extent, if at all, this kind of legislation can be helpful not only in dealing with the maintenance of law and order, which, of course, is essential, and your primary responsibility, but also in identifying the underlying social causes.
Mr. LA FOLLETTE. I think this type of legislation and the theory behind it, in trying to identify the underlying social causes of delinquency, is sound.
We have a wide body of knowledge and technical expertise which has been devoted by the social scientists through various types of studies carried on in our universities that need implementation. There is a lot of available sound and accurate information which could be utilized if programs of the type proposed in this bill were to become law,
There is a lack of communication, I think, in the social fields themselves between one discipline and another in pulling together all the available knowledge in one kind of a program that—to deal with this problem.
Senator CLARK. Well, that means research as much as planning. And as you know, we have this Joint Commission on Manpower Training which is dealing with the other aspect--where you get the skilled personnel to do this.
Maybe I ought to take you back now to your specific recommendation on the bill.
Mr. La FOLLETTE. Fine.
There is one critical point contained in the administration bill which I think is absolutely essential—I referred to it earlier—and that is the provisions of the administration bill, S. 1248, would permit public agencies to make full use of community resources for the treatment and rehabilitation of youths who have come to the attention of law enforcement and other community agencies as being potential delinquents, but not yet having been officially formally declared delinquents by the juvenile processes.
It seems to me that it is absolutely essential, if we are going to try and develop preventive measures in this field, that as soon as the established authority is aware of a potential juvenile problem, the resources of the community, both private and public, should be devoted to identifying the nature of that problem and taking what steps are necessary to try and correct it.
Senator CLARK. This all ends up as part of the war on poverty, doesn't it, or is it broader than that-because in Lake Geneva, you were not dealing with poverty there.
Mr. La FOLLETTE. It is broader than that. Juvenile delinquency no longer can be said to be an economic problem. The statistics show that the increase in juvenile delinquency, the largest percentage of increase is from delinquents coming from our suburb and areas which have literally no economic problems, or problems of poverty.