Home News Center October Federal Juvenile Justice Update

October Federal Juvenile Justice Update

October 11, 2017
Melissa Goemann

Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA)
We continue to push for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA). First passed in 1974, the JJDPA is the only federal law that sets down national standards for the care and treatment of youth in the justice system. It also established the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and set up the network of State Advisory Groups (SAGs). Through the state SAGs, each state gets substantial funding to ensure the JJDPA standards set out for the care and treatment of justice involved youth are followed and to work on additional justice reforms.

So where are we now? Both the House and Senate passed JJDPA reauthorization bills this year with overwhelming bipartisan support (S. 860 and H.R. 1809). However, differences in the two bills will have to be resolved by the House and Senate before they can approve a joint version of the bill and send it to the President.

Act4JJ, a coalition of organizations NJJN participates in that advocates for JJDPA reauthorization and funding, is spearheading a national call-in day on October 17th and is also initiating a post card campaign. Mark the call-in date on your calendar and plan on taking a few minutes to call your Members of Congress and make your voice heard!

Funding for Juvenile Justice
The Senate and House will be finalizing appropriations bills later this fall. There is great cause for concern as the House Appropriations Committee
zeroed out funding for the JJDPA for the third year in a row this past July. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved an increase in funding for Title II grants to $60 million and for Title V grants to $19 million. It is critical that Members of Congress hear from you about the importance of maintaining and increasing federal funding for youth justice programs and services, at least at the levels approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Your stories are needed to help make the case to members of Congress that we need strong youth justice funding. The Campaign for Youth Justice (C4YJ) is collecting stories that illustrate how programs that receive funding through the JJDPA will be impacted by budget cuts. There are detailed instructions and a sign up chart, as well as a folder to upload your stories located here. Please submit stories no later than November 17, 2017, which is just ahead of the November recess.

Members of Congress Coming to a Home District Near You
The Senate is in recess from Oct. 9 – 13 and the House is in recess Oct. 16 - 20. This is a great opportunity to speak with them or their staff in their district offices. Build those relationships and advocate for reauthorization of the JJDPA and funding for juvenile justice! For further information on the JJDPA, juvenile justice funding, and how to contact offices and set up meetings, see our
In-District Toolkit. If you need talking points, contact Melisa Goemann at goemann@njjn.org.

Other Bills of Interest:

  • Reverse Mass Incarceration Act of 2017
    This bill was introduced by Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate (
    S. 1458) and co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and introduced by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29) in the House (H.R. 3845). The bill would provide grants to states to reduce crime rates and incarceration.

  • REDEEM Act
    This bill was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate (
    S. 827) and co-sponsored by Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), and introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7) in the House (H.R. 1906) and seven Democratic co-sponsors. The full title of this bill is “Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act of 2017.” The bill would automatically seal, and in some cases expunge, federal juvenile records.

  • MERCY Act
    This bill was introduced by Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate (
    S. 329), with seven bi-partisan co-sponsors, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7) in the House (H.R. 901), with 11 bi-partisan co-sponsors. The bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit juvenile solitary confinement, except as a temporary response to behavior that poses a serious and immediate risk of harm.

  • Youth Access to Sexual Health Services Act
    This bill was introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) in the Senate (
    S. 1650) and Rep. Alma S. Adams (D-NC-12) in the House (H.R. 3559), with several Democratic co-sponsors for each bill. The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to support the access of marginalized youth to sexual health services such as sexual health education and contraception.

Bills of Concern
Several bills of concern have been introduced which we are monitoring. Below are some of the most recent.

  • Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act
    This bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA-3) in the House, with 38 Republican co-sponsors (
    H.R. 1881), and Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) in the Senate (S. 811), with 11 Republican co-sponsors.  The bill prohibits the federal government, and any state or local government that receives federal funding for any program that provides child welfare services, from  taking an adverse action against a child welfare service provider that declines to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.

  • Criminal Alien Gang Removal Act
    This bill was introduced by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) in the House, with six Republican co-sponsors (
    H.R. 3697), and passed the House (233-175) on Sept. 14th. This bill creates a new sweeping definition of “criminal gang,” and grants the Secretary of Homeland Security broad authority to designate small groups of people as a “criminal gang,” requiring mandatory detention and deportation for any current or former member of such designated groups. This bill promotes widespread racial and ethnic profiling of young people and communities and dramatically expands the detention of non-citizens, putting many members of our communities at risk.

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