Counties Focus on Juvenile Justice Reforms, Federal Role
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This week, members of the National Association of Counties (NACo) were in Washington to talk about crucial issues facing counties, including juvenile justice reforms and federal funding for juvenile justice. NACo's Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, chaired Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler of Dakota County, Minnesota met on March 2 and heard from Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign (www.act4jj.org) co-chairs Nancy Gannon Hornberger (Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice) and Liz Ryan (President & CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice).
In her remarks, Nancy highlighted the importance of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) and how funding has supported effective juvenile justice programs at the county level. Additionally, she talked about efforts to pass the Youth Promise Act (YPA), legislation authored by Rep. Bobby Scott. The YPA bill is set to be introduced in the next week and NACo members discussed how they could support this crucial piece of legislation.
Liz talked about the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the importance of federal funding for the JJDPA. NACo is a member of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign to reauthorize and adequately fund the JJDPA, and Liz encouraged NACo members to take that message to congressional offices as well as invite Members of Congress to visit county juvenile justice programs to see first-hand what is working in juvenile justice.
Bobby Vassar, Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, joined the session to discuss the importance of the Youth Promise Act. Both Nancy and Liz applauded his work in the House on the YPA and in ensuring adequate funding for juvenile justice programs. NACo’s Dalen Harris, who organized the session, was also commended for his tremendous efforts to ensure NACo members were being heard on the hill on juvenile justice.
At the meeting, NACo approved a position statement on juvenile and criminal justice, including a position on the transfer of youth to adult court, "NACo opposes trying and sentencing youth in adult criminal court, except in the case of a chronic and violent offender, and then only at the discretion of a juvenile court judge." For the full statement, visit here.
NACo released a position paper "Support Vulnerable Youth: Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act" available online at here.
For a copy of the presentation, visit here.