Last night, the Senate approved, through unanimous consent, S860, The Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Reauthorization Act of 2017, which updates and improves the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA). The JJDPA embodies a key partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk behavior and to improve community safety.
This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the JJDPA, which is currently ten years overdue for reauthorization. The JJDPA is the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the justice system and provides direction and support for state youth justice system improvements.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill, HR1809, “The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017” on May 24, 2017. The House and Senate will now have to come to an agreement on the provisions found in the two bills before it can be signed into law.
S. 860 strengthens the JJDPA in a number of ways – it gives clear direction to states and localities to plan and implement data-driven approaches to ensure fairness and reduce racial and ethnic disparities; allows for easier transfer and application of education credits earned for system-involved youth across school systems; and encourages states to ensure that programs and practices designed to address the needs of system-involved youth are both evidence-based and trauma-informed.
Read NJJN’s full statement here.