On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1809, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017. The bill was adopted on a voice vote reflecting the bipartisan sponsors that they can get a reauthorization done this year. The bill was introduced by Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN) and House Education and Workforce Ranking Member, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA). The reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) nearly made it through the last Congress but got caught up in the senate when Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) blocked it due to some of the provisions dealing with juvenile status offenses.
After the House action Congressman Lewis said, “The reforms we make in the JJRA are focused on preventing crime, supporting rehabilitation, and getting kids to graduation and a good job.We need these reforms to keep kids from being in jail unnecessarily- and to get to at-risk youth before they can take a wrong turn. I’m proud that my colleagues unanimously supported this bipartisan bill, which will improve accountability for taxpayers. I’ll keep working to get this bill signed into law.”
The JJDPA was created in 1974 to improve state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. Funding is linked to minimum standards and reforms. The reauthorized was due in 2007. Sponsors say that it will:
- Provide states and local leaders greater flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities.
- Promote opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society.
- Help at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by improving support for prevention services.
- Prioritize evidence-based strategies and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency.