The Party’s Over. It’s Time to Act!

October 1, 2014

Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA)—the nation’s main law governing state juvenile justice programs.

“40 for 40”- A Multimedia Storytelling Project

All September long, youth, families, leaders, and advocates from across the country celebrated four decades of fewer youth in adult jails, fewer children who have committed no crime being locked up, and increased attention being paid to racial and ethnic disparities in our state systems.

Here’s just a sampling of what we saw:

Forty years of change have made a difference, but there is still a lot more work that needs to get done.  Now is TIME TO TAKE ACTION.


Since 1974, the JJDPA has provided critical federal funding to states that comply with a set of best practices designed to protect children from the dangers of adult jails and lockups; keep status offenders out of locked custody; and address the disproportionate treatment of youth of color in the justice system. 

However, the law is now seven years overdue for reauthorization! 

Funding for the Act has been gutted to a mere fraction of what it was at the turn of the century.  Children are still being incarcerated at alarming rates and in horrible conditions because we are angry with them; NOT because they compromise our communities’ safety.

Congress has the opportunity to propose a new, revised bill that reflects what has been learned over the past decade about what does and does not work to keep our communities safe and help young people get back on track to better futures.  That’s what the ACT4JJ and JJDPA Matters campaigns are all about. 

Will you help us?

The party’s over.  It’s time to take action.  Take a moment to contact your Members of Congress and tell them it’s time to reauthorize and fund the JJDPA.

Marcy MistretttMarcy started her career in juvenile justice in Chicago in the 1990’s, where she worked on youth transfer issues at the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Clinic, at the Citizen’s Committee on Juvenile Court, and at the Evanston Community Defender Office as a social worker.  She has been an organizer, technical assistance and direct service provider at the national and local levels for the past 20 years.  Marcy joined the Campaign for Youth Justice in Summer, 2014 as the new CEO.



jjdpa matters icon


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, turned 40 in September 2014. To mark this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA throughout the fall and winter. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.


Marcy Mistrett