reauthorize it!

10 Ways a Reauthorized JJDPA Would Improve Young Lives, Communities

April 21, 2018

Visual. Shareable. The top ten reasons Congress must reauthorize this critical law today. Some of these may surprise you.

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Congress is closer than it has been in over a decade to reauthorizing the nation's federal juvenile justice bill, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The JJDPA represents a partnership between the federal government and the states to protect children and young people, and improve community safety. It is the only federal law that sets national standards for the custody and care of young people in the justice system, and provides support for states to improve their approaches.

The House and Senate have each passed unanimous bipartisan bills to reauthorize the JJDPA, and now Congress must take the final step of reconciling the bills and getting a final version to the president to sign into law. Congress: getting this finished makes good common sense.  Kids can't wait!

(Click any image to see/download a full-size version to share.)

1. Girls shouldn’t be shackled while giving birth.
 Currently, incarcerated girls can be shackled while giving birth. The JJDPA will end the inhumane practice of shackling pregnant girls during labor. Learn more.


End the inhumane practice of shackling girls while pregnant. Reauthorize the #JJDPA #JJDPAMatters



2. Educating all of our children should be a priority.
A renewed JJDPA will ensure that children who are incarcerated receive credit for coursework they complete while in detention facilities, and that their academic records are transferred from their schools in a timely fashion. Learn more.


Thanks to #JJDPA incarcerated youth can still get an education and transfer their academic records #JJDPAMatters



3. Skipping school shouldn’t land you in jail.
In nearly half of all states, status offense behaviors such as skipping school and running away from home can result in incarceration. An updated JJDPA would ensure that instead, students get the services they need to help them succeed. Learn more.


In nearly half of all states, youth who commit status offenses can be incarcerated: #JJDPAMatters

Skipping school shouldn't land you in jail. #S1169 ensures students get services to help them succeed #JJDPAMatters


4. There is no such thing as a child prostitute
Human trafficking should be in a court sentence for the predators, not our children. Currently, children can be sent before the courts and even incarcerated if they fall prey to human traffickers. The JJDPA requires systems to screen young people to determine if they are victims or at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. If they are, the JJDPA would require that they be diverted to appropriate services and programs whenever possible. Learn more. 


twitterChildren should never be charged for #humantrafficking. A renewed #JJDPA would provide services, not jail time. Congress, time to act. | #JJDPAMatters



5. We should be investing in what works.
The JJDPA places an emphasis on funding programs that are backed by evidence and proven to work. It also focuses on keeping our children in their communities instead of jails, which has been proven to lower social and financial costs. Learn more.


Invest in what works. #JJDPA is proven to keep our children and communities safe. #JJDPAMatters



6. Mental health needs require treatment, not incarceration.
A disproportionate number of children who come into the juvenile justice system suffer from mental illness. S. 1169 ensures that children are screened for mental health needs by qualified professionals, and that individuals who are involved with the system receive training to ensure that children who are identified receive appropriate placements and services. Learn more


twitterMental health needs require treatment, not incarceration. Reauthorize the #JJDPAMatters



7. Children should be treated fairly
Youth of color are greatly over-represented in the juvenile justice system. S. 1169 gives clear direction to states to implement data-driven approaches to ensure fairness to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. The bill also promotes fairness by expanding youth access to counsel and by informing youth of opportunities to seal or expunge juvenile records once they have gotten their lives back on track. Learn more.


Youth of color are over-represented in jj system. #JJDPA helps reduce racial & ethnic disparities: #JJDPAMatters



8. Children do not belong in adult jails.
Research shows that youth confined in adult jails and lock-ups are much more likely to re-offend upon release and while confined are at pronounced high risks for suffering assault and committing suicide.  S. 1169 keeps youth awaiting trial in criminal court out of adult lock-ups. Learn more.


Jail is no place for a child. Young people confined in adult jails are at high risk for suicide, and are more likely to reoffend upon release: #JJDPAMatters

Children do not belong in adult jails. Reauthorize #JJDPA to keep youth out of adult lockup: #JJDPAMatters



9. Trauma matters
We know that children who come in contact with the juvenile justice system have higher rates of exposure to trauma. S. 1169 encourages states to ensure that programs and practices designated to address the needs of system-involved youth are trauma-informed. Learn more.


Children in contact with jj system experience trauma at higher rate. #JJDPA helps address this: #JJDPAMatters



10. The system shouldn’t hurt kids. 
Children should not be exposed to extended isolation or restraints while in juvenile detention or correctional facilities. The JJDPA calls for staff training, policies and procedures to eliminate the use of dangerous practices and unreasonable use of restraints and isolation through the use of alternative behavior management techniques. Learn more.


The #JJDPAMatters. Why? Because it strengthens policies to eliminate unreasonable restraint and isolation of youth:

       dont hurt kids


The JJDPA is a common-sense law with common-sense improvements that will help young people and improve public safety. Reauthorize the JJDPA. It’s smart, it’s effective and it’s time.  

ACT NOWTake Action:  An updated law will help more of our most vulnerable youth, promote public safety, and ensure that scarce federal and state dollars are used wisely.  

Call on your Members of Congress to get this unfinished business done now because kids can't wait. It only takes a few minutes to lend your voice, we made it easy. Act now:



This post is part of the JJDPA Matters blog, a project of the Act4JJ Campaign with help from SparkAction.

The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, is up for reauthorization. As legislative changes are being made to bring this law up-to-date, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.

This article was originally published on Jan. 26, 2016 and was reviewed and updated on April 21, 2018.


Not only your contents but also the way you present the issue is awesome. Particularly this one. Keep it up.

I can't believe it hasn't passed yet! Thanks for helping us keep fighting. Is there a way to make it even easier to click and post images? thanx

I will share - nice images. 

I think this law matters and these images are ... wow. Very help full for people. Hope this gets done.