Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update - June 2019

Federal Juvenile Justice Update - June 2019

June 27, 2019
Melissa C. Goemann

Federal Youth Justice Funding

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of funding bills on June 25th including H.R. 3055, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020, which contains funding for the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA). The bill initially included a slight increase in funding over current levels and then the House further enlarged this funding by adopting the following amendments: 

  • The amendment from Congressman Scott (D-VA) and Congresswoman Foxx (R-NC) transfers $13 million from federal prisoner detention to Youth PROMISE local delinquency prevention grants under the JJDPA. 

  • The amendment from Congressman Neguse (D-CO) increases funding for juvenile justice programs by $1,000,000. Overall federal funding for juvenile justice programs has decreased by nearly 50 percent in the last 16 years. 

  • The amendment from Congresswoman Scanlon (D-PA) increases the funding for Title II and Title V of the JJDPA by $2 million. 

NJJN signed onto a letter  organized by Act4JJ supporting these amendments. Thank you to all who also signed onto this letter and took other actions supporting these amendments! We will soon be working on appropriations in the Senate so stay tuned for further advocacy actions. 

Need to know more about 
how your state relies on federal youth justice funding? Act4JJ is in the process of updating many of the fact sheets for individual states. See this link on Spark Action’s website for updated state fact sheets.

Concerns with the Dream Act Legislation Which Passed the House

The U.S. House passed H.R. 6, The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, on June 4th. While the overall bill is positive in that it provides over two million individuals who came to the United States as children (“Dreamers”) with a path to legal status and eventual United States citizenship, it potentially excludes a new subset of Dreamers from these protections. The Act allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to deny legal status to immigrants with juvenile adjudications that resulted in placement in secure confinement and those for whom ICE alleges a gang affiliation. While the bill was slightly ameliorated before passage to disallow adjudications from the 15 states that seal records, this fix clearly leaves too many behind.  Additionally, many youthful immigrants have been racially profiled and have landed in the juvenile justice system or have found themselves unfairly tagged with a gang label. This is the first time that a law has required immigration officials to weigh juvenile records, as opposed to adult legal convictions, when applying for legal status. This sets a dangerous precedent for immigration laws and weakens our youth justice systems overall. For further information on concerns with this provision of the Act, see this Huffington Post article. We will continue to advocate for the removal of this provision if the bill gets taken up in the Senate. 

National Sign-on Letters and Comments

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. NJJN also occasionally issues comments on regulations impacting individuals in the youth justice and other systems. Please see below for a list of the national letters and that NJJN has signed since our last newsletter and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list: 

  • June 19, 2019 – National sign-on letter organized by Act4JJ to House Members asking them to vote “YES” on Amendments to Increase Juvenile Justice Funding in H.R. 3055, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020.  

  • June 3, 2019 -  National sign-on letter to House Members asking them to vote “YES” on Amendment X and Amendment Y to H.R. 6 (the Dream and Promise Act of 2019) to remove discretionary bars to relief based on juvenile adjudications and alleged gang affiliation.

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