The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), was first enacted in 1974 and provides federal funding to states that comply with a set of best practices aimed at avoiding the detention and incarceration of young people in juvenile and adult facilities. However, this law is three years overdue for reauthorization and the U.S. House of Representatives has yet to introduce or act on new reauthorization legislation!
It's a good law, and is needed now more than ever to end the over-incarceration of young people of color in the justice system and stop the inappropriate use of adult jails for warehousing children charged as adults.
If you believe that it is urgent to stop putting youth in adult jails and prisons, to end the over-incarceration of youth of color in the justice system, and instead to devote more resources to effective juvenile justice programs such as alternatives to detention and incarceration, contact the House now and urge them to introduce and move a bill on the House floor this year!
Send the letter below to urge your Representative to move the JJDPA this year to take positive steps to fix our juvenile justice system!
I am writing to you to express my support for a strong reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
For over 35 years, the JJDPA has been providing crucial protections for youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system. These protections include keeping youth in the juvenile justice system out of adult jails and lock-ups, ensuring that non-delinquent status offenders (such as children who are truant, runaway or violate curfew laws) are not placed in locked juvenile detention or corrections facilities, and addressing the disproportionate representation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.
Please ensure a JJDPA reauthorization bill is introduced and passed through the House this year with the following provisions:
--Keep pre-trial youth under the age of 18 out of adult jails and lock-ups and in more humane juvenile justice facilities, regardless if they are tried in adult or juvenile court;
--Continue to allow States that choose to keep youth convicted of adult crimes in juvenile facilities, rather than adult prisons, without facing a federal penalty;
--End the practice of locking up status offenders (i.e. youth who have run away or are truant) by eliminating the Valid Court Order exception;
--Protect youth locked up in juvenile detention and corrections facilities by encouraging States to improve how youth are treated in these facilities, including eliminating the use of dangerous practices, such as hog-tying youth, choking youth, and administering psychotropic medications to youth for purposes of coercion, punishment or convenience of staff;
--Provide States with concrete guidance on how to reduce the disparate treatment of youth of color in the juvenile justice system; and
--Incentivize States to continue to work toward best practices in the juvenile justice and go above and beyond the JJDPA requirements.
It is urgent that the JJDPA be reauthorized this year so that young people can continue to be protected by the JJDPA. I appreciate your attention to this issue and look forward to working with you on advancing a strong JJDPA reauthorization bill including the provisions listed above.
Thank you for your consideration.