On Thursday, December 17th, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to consider S. 678, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009. This critical legislation may be undermined by the addition of amendment expected to be offered by Senator Sessions (R-AL) that would increase the number of youth tried as adults and/or that would remove a judge’s discretion to determine whether to prosecute a youth in adult court. Such an amendment would directly contradict the goals and purposes of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
The Sessions amendment would modify current federal transfer law by taking the decision of whether a youth should be prosecuted as an adult for an enumerated list of crimes away from neutral federal judges and instead place the decision with prosecutors. This amendment would also cast a wide net by allowing this increased discretion to be applied to youth who are charged with attempt or conspiracy to commit these crimes or for joined or lesser included offenses.
Urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject this amendment as it would harm youth, decrease public safety, and disproportionately affect youth of color.