In response to a bipartisan group of Senators, national youth justice advocates, and other stakeholders urging the Justice Department to outline ways to prevent infections, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) issued disappointing guidance to state juvenile detention and correctional facilities.
The guidance is counter to the CDC’s recommended public health measures and does little to protect youth and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “As of May 5, at least 204 juvenile offenders and more than 350 employees at juvenile detention facilities across the country have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” stated Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA). OJJDP is one of a few federal sub-agencies that have not issued best practices or other guidelines for its stakeholders.
CWLA has been supporting efforts of the juvenile justice coalition to urge the Justice Department to explain how they were protecting youth in juvenile detention facilities from COVID-19. In addition, we have signed onto the letter to oppose OJJDP’s new guidance to states that goes against what we as a field know to be true. The guidance asserts that young people are safer in facilities in this moment than being released and returning to their communities. We ask that you join us in this urgent call to ensure oversight of OJJDP and oppose incarceration of young people during this crisis. To sign your organization to the Act4JJ letter by end of day Monday, June 8th, click here.
On Tuesday, June 9th, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice is leading a Virtual Youth Justice Hill Day focusing on federal appropriations in the federal budget and COVID response. The event is open to all – RSVP at the link here.