Sign On in Support of the JJDPA!

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to consider S. 1169, a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, as early as next week. We hope that your organization will consider signing on to the Act4JJ Coalition's letter of support (below) for this strong bipartisan legislation. This letter is useful to encourage additional Senators to support the bill.

Click here to sign on in support of the JJDPA!


July 13, 2015

The Honorable Chuck Grassley
530 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse
135 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Grassley and Senator Whitehouse:

We, the undersigned—representing more than 80 national, state, and local organizations and hundreds of thousands of constituents—thank you for your leadership in sponsoring S. 1169, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015. The bill strengthens and updates the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which has provided States and localities with federal standards and supports for improving juvenile justice and delinquency prevention practices and contributed to safeguards for youth, families and communities for more than 40 years, and we are grateful that you have made it a priority this Congress.

Despite a continuing decline in youth crime and delinquency, more than 60,000 young people are held in detention centers awaiting trial or confined by the courts in juvenile facilities in the U.S. For these confined youth, and the many more kids at-risk of involvement in the justice system, the JJDPA and programs it supports are critical. Youth who are locked up are separated from their families, and many witness violence. These youth struggle when they get out, trying to complete high school, get jobs, housing, or go to college. Aside from the human toll, the financial costs of maintaining large secure facilities have also made it vital to rethink juvenile justice in every community.

Premised on research-based understandings of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, S. 1169 reaffirms a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system; one that supports developmentally appropriate practices that treat as many youth as possible in their communities.  It advances important improvements to the JJDPA, its core requirements and its central purposes, provides enhanced safeguards for youth in the system, increases community safety, and ensures progress toward racial fairness. 

Since the last JJDPA reauthorization was approved in 2002, there have been many developments in the field of juvenile justice that significantly impact practitioners’ work. S. 1169 recognizes and addresses many of these developments in several key ways.  Specifically, we are pleased that the bill:    

  1. Strengthens the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) core requirement by calling on states to phase-out use of the Valid Court Order Exception that currently causes non-offending youth/status offenders to be locked up.
  2. Extends the adult Jail Removal and Sight and Sound Separation core requirements to apply to juveniles held pretrial, whether charged in juvenile or adult court.
  3. Gives States and localities clear direction on the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) protection to plan and implement data-driven approaches to ensure fairness and reduce racial and ethnic disparities, to set measurable objectives for reduction of disparities in the system, and to publicly report such efforts.
  4. Encourages States to eliminate dangerous practices in confinement and to promote adoption of best practices and standards. 
  5. Recognizes the impact of exposure to violence and trauma on adolescent behavior and development.
  6. Encourages investment in community-based alternatives to detention; encourages family engagement in design and delivery of treatment and services; improves screening, diversion, assessment, and treatment for mental health and substance abuse needs; allows for easier transfer of education credits for system-involved youth; and calls for a focus on the particular needs of girls either in the system or at risk of entering the justice system.
  7. Promotes fairness by supporting State efforts to expand youth access to counsel and encouraging programs that inform youth of opportunities to seal or expunge juvenile records once they have gotten their lives back on track. 
  8. Reauthorizes the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program which helps states and localities reduce juvenile offending by providing judges and other juvenile justice officials with a range of age/developmentally-appropriate options to both hold youth accountable and get them back on track so they are less likely to reoffend. 
  9. Encourages transparency, timeliness, public notice, and communication on the part of OJJDP, its agents and the States. 
  10. Increases accountability to ensure effective use of resources, to provide greater oversight of grant programs, and to ensure state compliance with federal standards. 


Given the significant gains reflected in S. 1169, we are pleased to endorse the bill and look forward to continuing to work with you and your colleagues toward final passage in the 114th Congress. 

Respectfully submitted,

(in alphabetical order)
 

National Organizations 

American Civil Liberties Union

Boys Town

Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

Campaign for Youth Justice

Center for Children’s Law and Policy

Child Welfare League of America

Children’s Advocacy Institute

Children’s Defense Fund

Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness

Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Covenant House International 

Disciples Justice Action Network

Forum for Youth Investment

Foster Family-based Treatment Association

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Futures without Violence

Healthy Teen Network

Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls)

Institute for Family Centered Services

Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States

Juvenile Law Center

Justice for Families

Justice Policy Institute

Juvenile Justice Council of First Judicial Court (Illinois)

Learning Disabilities Association of America

Mennonite Central Committee, U.S. Washington Office

Mental Health America

NAACP

National Alliance of Faith and Justice

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

National Association of Counsel for Children

National Association of Counties

National Association of School Psychologists

National Center on Adoption and Runaway Permanency

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

National Council of Churches

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

National Council of Young Leaders

National Council on Crime and Delinquency

National Crittenton Foundation

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Juvenile Justice Network

National Latin@ Network: Casa de Esperanza

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Network for Youth (NN4Y)

National Religious Campaign against Torture

National Youth Advocate Program

Pace Center for Girls, Inc.

Partnership for America’s Children

Peace Alliance

PFLAG

Prison Policy Initiative

Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative

School Social Worker Association of America

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team

SparkAction

Southern Poverty Law Center

Southwest Key

Strategies for Youth, Inc.

Student Peace Alliance

The Center for Public Representation

The Corps Network

The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare

The Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps

The Sentencing Project

The Social Action Commission of The African Methodist Episcopal Church

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

True Colors Fund

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

W. Haywood Burns Institute

 

State and Regional Organizations

180 Degrees, Inc.

ACCESS Education

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Cass County Probation Department (Walker, Minn)

Center for Children & Youth Justice (Washington)

Center for Juvenile Justice Reform/Georgetown University

Children's Justice Clinic, Rutgers School of Law Camden

Citizens for Juvenile Justice (Boston,  Mass)

City of Stamford Youth Services Bureau

Columbia County Teen Court

Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance

Crittenton Center (Iowa)

Dekalb County Court Services (Illinois)

Division of Youth Services (Arkansas)

Double R Consulting

Family and Youth Counseling Agency (Louisiana)

Hawaii Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group

Hawaii State Office of Youth Services

Handel IT

Homeboy Industries (Los Angeles, Ca.)

Illinois Collaboration on Youth

Invictus Reentry Maryland

Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans

Juvenile Justice Coalition (Ohio)

Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois

Just Children (Virginia)

Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations (Michigan)

Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights

LUK, Inc.

Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group

Marion County Commission on Youth (Indiana)

MEN IN MOTION IN THE COMMUNITY

Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency 

Office of Restorative Justice, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Ohio Department of Youth Services

Oregon Youth Court Association

PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

Rhode Island State Council of Churches

Richland County Public Defender's Office

Salt Lake Area Gang Project

SAY San Diego

Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office

Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team

StaffVista

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition

The Art of Yoga Project

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking

The Northeast Regional Juvenile Defender Center

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

The San Mateo County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission

Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

Voices for Children in Nebraska

Washington State Partnership Council of Juvenile Justice

Wichita County Teen Court (Texas)

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families

Yakima County Juvenile Court (Washington)

Youth Services of Fremont County Wyoming