Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update - September 2020

Federal Juvenile Justice Update - September 2020

September 29, 2020
Melissa C. Goemann

Fully Fund the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

Funding from the JJDPA enables states to provide essential programs and services to young people to help keep young people safe and out of the justice system. It is also one of the only federal laws that require states to address racial & ethnic disparities. Take this action now and tell the Senate to fully fund the JJDPA: bit.ly/ActNow4JJ| #JJDPAMatters.

House Passed Short-Term Spending Fix 

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed (359-57) a Continuing Resolution, H.R. 8337, to keep the government funded at current levels through December 11th. It needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President by September 30th at midnight to avoid a government shutdown. All indications are that this deadline will be met. Here is a link to the summary. The final agreement included the following provisions to help children and families:

  • Funds for nutrition programs, including extending Pandemic EBT, a program providing funds to families whose children are not receiving school meals because of remote learning;
  • Assistance to families whose children were in now-closed child care centers;
  • An extension of waivers of other nutrition programs enacted in the Families First COVID legislation, including another year of flexibility in the SNAP program which has resulted in higher benefits for families struggling in the pandemic; and

House Passes Justice for Juveniles Act

The House unanimously passed the Justice for Juvenile Act, which would enable young people to seek help while they are being held in facilities and experiencing abuse. Now it’s time for the Senate to do the same. Take this action now to protect youth: bit.ly/Justice-For-Juveniles 

The Justice for Juveniles Act, H.R. 5053, introduced and championed by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), would increase access to federal courts for youth facing abuse and harm in justice facilities, by relieving youth under 21 of the administrative requirements under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. By making it easier for young people abused in facilities to access the federal courts, it not only addresses their individual needs, but also holds facilities accountable.

House Released Updated Version of HEROES Act

On September 28th, House Democrats released an updated version of the HEROES Act, a $2.2 trillion dollar COVID-19 relief package, to address needs that have arisen since they first introduced their first iteration of the HEROES Act, H.R. 6800, in May. Sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), this Act provides $50m for youth justice under Title 2 (the state formula grant portion) of the JJDPA. There is also $50m for programs authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act. It provides funds for a number of significant needs including funds to bolster education and child care, housing assistance, and food security through a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit.

The text of revised version of The Heroes Act is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. Additional information on the state and local relief provisions is here.

National Sign-on Letters and Comments

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:

  • Sept. 16, 2020 – Signed unto letter from the Vera Institute of Justice to Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren supporting the bill they introduced, COVID-19 in Corrections Data Transparency Act (H.R. 7983/S. 4536), requiring the collection and reporting of key data on the spread and effect of coronavirus within all of the nation’s correctional facilities. 
  • Sept. 10, 2020 – Signed onto Unlock the Box letter to the CDC urging them to issue clear guidance on reducing inmate population and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in facilities. 
  • Sept. 8, 2020 – Signed onto CLASP letter to Congress urging that immigrants and their families be included in the next COVID-19 legislative relief package. 
  • Sept. 3, 2020 – Signed onto open letter to Senate leadership urging them to include prison phone justice in the next stimulus package. The COVID-19 Compassion and Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act, which passed as part of the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), and its bipartisan Senate analog, Martha Wright Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act (S. 1764), would: (1) establish the FCC's authority to regulate all prison and jail calls, (2) set interim rate caps to $0.04/min for prepaid calls and $0.05/min for collect calls, and (3) prohibit site commissions. 

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