House Passes Juvenile Justice Reauthorization!
Washington, DC, Sept. 22 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed what might be "the most significant justice reform measure to reach Obama in his tenure," according to The Marshall Project.
By an overwhelming vote of 382 to 29 (with 20 Representatives not voting), the House passed the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963). The bill updates and reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act (JJDPA), the main federal law that sets standards and protections for youth in state juvenile justice programs.
The JJDPA is long overdue for an update and Congressional reauthorization: the federal law expired in 2007 and attempts to reauthorize it have consistently failed, although some have come close.
Juvenile justice advocates say reauthorizing the JJDPA will help states enact reforms to make local juvenile justice programs fairer and more effective. It will also help states better align their approaches with the growing body of research about what works to both support young people in need and improve community safety.
The House bill is an example of bipartisan collaboration: it was introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), with support from Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
According to coverage by the Marshall Project, "Unlike previous versions of the law, the new bill would extend that protection to juveniles who have been charged with adult crimes but are still awaiting trial."
If passed by the full Congress and signed into law, the bill would also ban states from locking up minors for "status offenses" — actions that are crimes only because of the age of the offender, such as skipping school or missing curfew. It also closes the "valid court order" or VCO exception, under which young people charged with a status offense can be jailed if the offiense violates an existing court order, for example requiring them to attend school. (Check out Sara's story to learn more.)
SparkAction supports the social media components of the national campaign to reathorize the JJDPA: #JJDPAmatters, led by the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition.
Next up: the Senate must pass its bipartisan bill, S. 1169, which has been blocked by a lone Senator, Tom Cotton (R-AR).
- Take Action: Thank the House for passing this bill, and ask them to continue to stand for youth justice. Use our quick action alert.
- Find out how your representatives voted here.