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Federal Juvenile Justice Update - February 2019

February 27, 2019
Melissa Goemann

Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA)

Now that the JJDPA has been reauthorized, focus has shifted to securing successful implementation of the Act. The Act4JJ Coalition, of which NJJN is a part, is coordinating fact sheets detailing the main changes to the bill. The fact sheet prepared by NJJN and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) on changes to conditions of confinement in the new Act can be found here and see the Act4JJ Resources page for fact sheets on many other aspects of the new Act. For further information on all the changes to the JJDPA listen to a recording of our February 19th webinar, “What Does JJDPA Reauthorization Mean for Kids” with presenters Naomi Smoot, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel for the Campaign for Youth Justice. Education of all stakeholders is key to the successful adoption of these reforms and we look forward to communication from OJJDP soon on clear next steps in moving implementation forward. Continue to look for the Twitter Tuesday actions to encourage swift and full implementation of the Act.

Federal Youth Justice Funding

Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) spending package

Congress passed and the President approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, earlier this month. This FY19 spending package provided funds for several departments, including the Department of Justice. The appropriation for juvenile justice programs totaled $287 million, allotted as follows:

  • $60 million for Title II;
  • $24.5 million for Title V earmarked as follows:
    • $5 million for Tribal Youth;
    • $500,000 for Children of Incarcerated Parents Web Portal;
    • $2 million for girls in the juvenile justice system;
    • $9 million for opioid affected youth initiatives; and
    • $8 million for children exposed to violence;
  • $95 million for mentoring;
  • $22.5 for Victims of Child Abuse Programs;
  • $82 million for Missing and Exploited Children Programs; and
  • $3 million for judicial training. 

Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program

The House passed H.R. 494 ,the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program, earlier this month. Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), this program was once a substantial source of funding for juvenile justice but Congress zeroed it out in recent years. The bill must now must be considered in the Senate.

Fines and Fees

In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Timbs v. Indiana  on February 20th holding that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. In the opinion for the Court issued by Justice Ginsburg, she drew attention to the racial dynamic of the problem, referencing how “draconian fines” for dubious offenses such as vagrancy were used by Southern States following the Civil War as a way to continue to subjugate black people and return them to involuntary servitude. While the defendant in this case was an adult, the decision will be a huge help to youth facing excessive fines as well. NJJN signed a Statement of Interest in support of the amici curiae brief filed by the Juvenile Law Center in this case.


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to be unsuccessful in trying to tie federal funding for state law enforcement programs to collaboration with immigration enforcement. See our “DOJ Loses in Court” story in this newsletter for comprehensive information on the latest court decision enjoining DOJ from requiring collaboration with immigration enforcement in the Byrne/JAG grant program.

Recommendations to Congress

The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, of which NJJN is a member of the Steering Committee, recently issued recommendations to the 116th Congress in their bi-annual policy guide, “Opportunities for Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Reform.” This guide is a tremendous resource for advocacy with Congress and provides useful resource material for issues confronting advocates as the state level as well.

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 earlier in the summer and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list:

2/7/19 -  Sign-on Letter from the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition encouraging congress to vote “yes” on H.R. 494, the Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, that provides funding for positive youth development and violence diversion services.

(Final to Come) 2.6.19 - Sign-on letter from Act4JJ urging the chairs and ranking members of the appropriations committees to full fund the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

(Final To come) - January---, 2019, NDD United sign on letter demanding that cuts not be made to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs through the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).  The letter urges Congress to take immediate steps to negotiate a new budget agreement that averts BCA cuts.

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