Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update - April 2019

Federal Juvenile Justice Update - April 2019

April 23, 2019
Melissa Goemann

Federal Youth Justice Funding

We continue to be concerned about federal youth justice funding given all the competing demands for funding on the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittees, including border wall funding, the 2020 presidential conventions, and the 2020 census. Please continue to look for the Twitter Tuesday emails with information on how to spread the word about why the #JJDPAmatters with the Senate and House CJS appropriators.

What’s in the Reauthorized JJDPA?

In December 2018, Congress passed H.R. 6964, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, amending and reauthorizing the JJDPA. H.R. 6964 reauthorized and updated the Act for the first time in 16 years. There are many new provisions in the law, including strengthening and updating each of the core requirements and changes to data collection, state plans, conditions for youth, and much more. For further information, the Act4JJ coalition, of which NJJN is a part, has prepared fact sheets on all of these changes which you can find here. NJJN also hosted a public webinar detailing the changes which you can find here, and a members only zoom discussion with additional information which is available on the members only area on our website (under Teleconferences + Webinars for Members Only).

Federal Youth Justice Legislation Introduced

Several members of Congress have recently introduced legislation that would benefit youth. Below are some of these bills:

End Debtors Prisons for Kids Act – H.R. 2300;  Sponsored by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29)

This bill provides grants to mental and behavioral health programs for at-risk youth in part to incentivize states to stop imposing fines and fees on youth in the juvenile justice system.  Funds will also be used to research the effect fines and fees have on the criminal legal system and help policymakers to determine best practices.

Next Step Act of 2019 – S. 697; Sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). House companion bill H.R. 1893 was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12)

This is a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that includes a number of provisions such as eliminating the crack cocaine sentencing disparity and removing marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances; it also incorporates the REDEEM Act, which includes provisions on sealing and expungement of juvenile records, sealing of adult records, makes improvements to the ban on juvenile solitary confinement, which was passed as part of the First Step Act; and incentivizes states to pass similar laws by giving them priority consideration for COPS grants, including prioritization for states that establish age 18 as a floor for original jurisdiction in adult criminal courts.

Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act of 2019 - S. 1074; Sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

The REAL Act reinstates Pell Grant eligibility for individuals incarcerated in federal and state penal institutions.

National Sign-on Letters

Youth involved with the justice system often intersect with many other systems serving marginalized populations – such as child welfare, immigration, public health, and housing. To best serve our youth, NJJN signs onto a number of national letters on these issues throughout the year. Please see below for a list of the national letters that NJJN has signed since our last newsletter and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list:

April 12, 2019 – Organizational sign-on letter initiated by the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) urging congressional appropriation leaders to provide strong funding ($520 million) for the Byrne JAG program in the Fiscal Year 2020 CJS appropriations bill.

April 4, 2019 – Organizational sign-on letter in support of the Homeless Children and Youth Act from National Network for Youth. This is a bipartisan bill that increases homelessness assistance for children, youth and families.

April, 2019 (Final to Come) - Sign on letter from the Collier Collective and NCJA urging Congress to lift the FY20 budget caps and to increase funding for the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill.  Recent years have resulted in drastic funding cuts which lessens the federal government’s role in utilizing evidence-based approaches and advancing justice system reform.  

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