ALEXANDRIA, Va., (July 24, 2015) — Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The bill’s passage by the committee is an important first step to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.
“While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, reauthorization of the law is long overdue and improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes in the JJDPA and amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee and the leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for passing the bipartisan Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015. We commend their commitment to improving the juvenile justice system for our nation’s youth.”
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015 would improve current law by:
- Ensuring the continuity of children’s education while detained and a smooth transition back into the classroom after;
- Providing guidance to states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth in the juvenile justice system;
- Making sure detained youth are kept separate from adults; and
- Phasing out exemptions that allow youth detainment for minor offenses.
“National PTA has advocated for a fair, safe and rehabilitative justice system for children for more than one hundred years. The association continues to encourage and support policies and programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth in the system with services to help them become productive members of society,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We remain committed to working with Congress to ensure a JJDPA reauthorization bill is signed into law that enhances protections for youth and helps every child reach his or her full potential.”