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U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Federal Juvenile Justice Law

Posted in 2015 Press Releases

S. 1169 would reauthorize and strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to support state efforts to improve their juvenile justice systems, protect kids, and build safer communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Judiciary Committee set the example for bi-partisan efforts to reform our nation’s justice system.  By a voice vote, the Committee approved S. 1169, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2015, and renewed a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system; one that supports developmentally appropriate practices to reduce delinquency and keep kids and communities safe.  
“Today’s action by the Senate Judiciary Committee reflects the historic bi-partisan nature of this issue.  Protecting children and youth in custody, promoting practices that help kids and protect communities, and keeping young people out of the justice system are all goals we share, said Marcy Mistrett, Co-chair of the Act4JJ Campaign and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice.  “We commend Senator Grassley and Senator Whitehouse for their leadership and bipartisan vision on juvenile justice reform and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them as the bill moves on to consideration by the full Senate.”
Signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety.  More than seven years overdue for reauthorization, the JJDPA is the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements. 
S. 1169 would build upon these national standards by reducing the placement of youth in adult jails pre-trial, providing more structure to the law’s requirement to decrease racial and ethnic disparities, and phasing out exceptions that allow the detention of youth who have engaged in status offense behaviors.  The bill also promotes the use of alternatives to incarceration, calls for the implementation of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices, improves conditions and educational services for incarcerated youth, and increases accountability.
“S. 1169 reflects the latest scientific research in the field and the public’s strong support for investing in rehabilitation and treatment of youth,” said Marie Williams Co-chair of the Act4JJ campaign and Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.  “Today’s vote signals a significant step toward JJDPA reauthorization in the 114th Congress and makes many critical changes and improvements to help states and localities employ best practices in delinquency prevention and uphold important safeguards for the care and custody of youth in juvenile justice systems nationwide.”
In addition Senators Grassley and Whitehouse, the bill is cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Marico Rubio (R-FL).
For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org
About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.

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