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Articles tagged with: Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

Reauthorization of the JJDPA: Briefing Recap

Tomás Perez Friday, 18 September 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

2nbdChris Bellamy, Assistant DA from Tennessee, speaking about the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, “I support the JJDPA because I’m hard on crime.”

Yet, the JJDPA would be one of the last bills in the Senate which people would correlate with being “hard on crime”. Most would associate being hard on crime as using the most punitive approaches to responding to criminal behavior resulting in increased incarceration rates.

This is not the case with the JJDPA. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act aims to lower incarceration rates and spending, while offering protections for youth who are in the juvenile justice systems, without compromising safety of communities. However, to Bellamy’s point, this bill also uses evidenced-based practices that have shown to decrease crime rates and increased public safety. Some might refer to these tactics as being “smart on crime”.

This week, a briefing in the Russell Senate Office Building was held to discuss the bipartisan bill S. 1169, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act (JJDPA) of 2015. Senators from both sides of the aisle have cosponsored the bill, including Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Those in attendance ranged from advocates for youth in the system, to staffers of senators and others with ties to the juvenile justice system, who came to hear testimony from groups such as the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the Justice Policy Institute, Boys Town, and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. There were also speakers with ties to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the District Attorney’s office of Tennessee’s 19th Judicial District. The panel talked about the JJDPA and how the reauthorization can improve upon current law.

There are four main components of the JJDPA, the deinstitutionalization of status offenders (DSO), adult jail/lockup removal for youth, sight and sound separation from adults, and addressing disproportionate minority contact to the system (DMC).

Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute, spoke about the history of the JJDPA. “We know that when young people are held in adult facilities we get terrible outcomes” he said.

Research has shown that youth released from adult facilities are more likely to offend than youth released from the juvenile justice system. It has also shown the lack of educational opportunities and other resources that are not present in adult facilities, but are available in juvenile centers matter. We know that it is a “lose-lose” situation when youth are in adult facilities because they can’t be kept safe or distanced from adults without being isolated/confined which in turn has other harmful effects. And, we know that youth incarcerated in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in juvenile facilities. Schindler was talking about all of this research and more.

All the speakers spoke about their expertise and experience with the juvenile justice system to support the JJDPA and its reauthorization. The Honorable Judge Deborah Schumacher spoke about the deinstitutionalization of status offenders. A status offense is an offense that is only considered illegal because of the age of the offender; such offences like truancy, running away from home, and breaking curfew. In the case of minors, such offenses are things like truancy, or breaking curfew. “Status offenses are no reason to incarcerate a child,” said Judge Schumacher, “more harm will come of incarcerating a child for a status offense than if we used a community based alternative."

Chief Richard Crate, a police chief from Enfield New Hampshire and member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, spoke about the treatment of youth at the local level. He notes that the area where he has seen the most success has been in alternative programs for youth, some may know them as “diversion” or “restorative” youth courts or programs in which the state takes custody of the youth but “we don’t incarcerate them, we help them. We tell them, at least in New Hampshire, that everyone makes mistakes, and we’re not there to punish them.” The JJDPA will help to support these types of state efforts.

The JJDPA has positive, far--reaching effects on youth and communities all across the United States. Aeryn Van Eck was a youth who had been incarcerated, but they was placed in a non-secure, family like setting at Boys Town, an organization focused on fostering child rehabilitation and development into leaders and productive members of society. She spoke about the positive experience that alternative routes can have for youth who have offended. She notes that the JJDPA and initiatives like it were a big reason for her success.

With support for the bipartisan bill growing, there is a good chance it will be passed by the Senate this year. The law has worked in the past to lower the crime rates, lower incarceration rates, and lower spending on prisons, while investing in children successfully. The air in the room of the senate office building after the briefing was lively with chat of growing support from more senators, and a hopeful outlook for a renewed and improved JJDPA.

Written by Tomás Perez, intern with the Campaign for Youth Justice. Tomás is a senior, political science major at the University of California, Merced.

Building Safe & Strong Communities

Samantha Phillips Friday, 19 September 2014 Posted in 2014, Federal Update

Kids Don’t Care What You Know, Until They Know That You Care: Building Safe & Strong Communities

 This month on Capitol Hill, National experts came together to discuss community-based alternatives to incarceration that improve public safety and support youth.  The panelist all had one definite thing in common: each panelist believes in providing cost-effective, community-based alternatives to institutional placement.  

CFYJ and the National PTA: Dedicated to Juvenile Justice Reform

Carmen Daugherty Thursday, 20 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) held its annual legislative conference last week at which CFYJ presented on recent state trends in keeping youth out of the adult criminal justice system. We highlighted the work of over 20 states in their efforts to end the placement of youth in criminal courts, jails, and prisons. Additionally, CFYJ provided background on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and shared recommendations to state-level PTA members on how to best advocate for JJDPA reauthorization and improve the current core requirements.

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System: Federal Support Still Needed

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

 
As part of National Youth Justice Awareness Month, we are highlighting the federal Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act’s(JJDPA) core requirement, “Disproportionate Minority Contact” for its’ role in supporting state and local efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. 
 
The JJDPA, established in 1974 to provide federal standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system, was updated twenty years ago with the “Disproportionate Minority Confinement” (DMC) provision requiring states to address the disproportionate confinement of youth of color at key points in the juvenile justice system.
 
In the most recent JJDPA reauthorization ten years ago, the term confinement was changed to contact emphasizing the racial and ethnic disparities faced by youth of color at all points in the juvenile justice system. “DMC is a critical issue in the juvenile justice system because it is an issue of basic fairness,” says national expert Mark Soler, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy.
 
The DMC provision was added to the law because of the huge disparities in the treatment of youth of color in the juvenile justice system. For example, African-American youth make up only 17% of the nation’s total youth population,  but African-American youth constitute 30% of the youth arrested nationwide and 62% of all youth in the adult criminal justice system.  Latino and Native American youth experience similar unfairness within the juvenile justice system. Latino children, the fastest-growing segment of the American population, represent 23% of all children under the 18.  At the same time, Latino youth are 40% more likely than white youth to be admitted to adult prison. Finally, Native American youth receive harsher sentences, with a 50% higher likelihood than white youth to receive out-of-home placement or to be placed in the adult system.
 
“Having an over-representation of young people of color in confinement means that those young people’s life outcomes are seriously diminished,” says one of the nation’s leaders on efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the Haywood Burns Institute. “And that is why we as a society should care mightily about this.”
 
These facts are often undermined by a false impression that youth of color commit more crime than white youth.  That is simply not true.  Results from self-report surveys indicate that white youth are in fact significantly more likely than youth of color to use drugs and alcohol, sell drugs, and engage in minor theft.  Although white youth admit high drug use, African-American youth are twice as likely to be arrested and detained and as a group account for 87% of all youth tried in adult court for drug offenses.
 
The JJDPA’s DMC provision has ensured funding to every state to reduce these stark racial and ethnic disparities.  There are promising efforts in a number of states.  Take a look at the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) efforts and the Models for Change (MfC) initiative.
 
However, the recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division three-year investigation into the operations of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee underscores the need to redouble efforts nationally to do much much more, not less, to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. 
 
The federal investigation found extensive racial disparities in the treatment of African-American children: African-American youth are twice as likely as white youth to be recommended for transfer to adult court.  Of the 390 transfers to adult court in 2010 in Tennessee, approximately one half were from Shelby County, and all but two of the total children transferred were African-American.
 
As we all take National Youth Justice Awareness Month to highlight key youth justice issues, such as reducing racial and ethnic disparities, we encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the JJDPA Matters Action Center and let your national leaders know  you support the JJDPA and related juvenile justice funding.  Let them know that federal policies and programs can be part of the solution for youth in your community. Let them know that the JJDPA matters to you.
 
Join us this week in continuing the conversation on youth justice issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter using: #JJDPAmatters #YJAM #JUSTinvest #youthjustice

JJDPA Matters

Monday, 09 September 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

 

 
 


By Jill Ward

 

“It is therefore the further declared policy of Congress to provide the necessary resources, leadership, and coordination (1) to develop and implement effective methods of preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency; (2) to develop and conduct effective programs to prevent delinquency, to divert juveniles from the traditional juvenile justice system and to provide critically needed alternatives to institutionalization; (3) to improve the quality of juvenile justice in the United States; and (4) to increase the capacity of State and local governments and public and private agencies to conduct effective juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and rehabilitation programs and to provide research, evaluation, and training services in the field of juvenile delinquency prevention.” - PUBLIC LAW 93-415-SEPT. 7, 1974

This, in part, is the originally stated purpose of the landmark federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974.  Thirty-nine years later, that purpose still rings true.

Back then, leaders in the juvenile and criminal justice field recognized the need for national leadership to address the all too common practice of jailing children with adults, the overuse of incarceration to respond to non-violent and status offenses, and the lack of alternatives to appropriately meet the needs of young people in ways that helped them and strengthened the community.  Congress stepped up and passed this bi-partisan law to provide policy direction and support for states. 

Most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a 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 and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety.  It is the only federal law that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system, provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements, and supports programs and practices that have significantly contributed to the reduction of juvenile crime and delinquency.

At the heart of the Act are four core protections that states must adhere to in order to receive federal support for their state system.  These protections help ensure the health and well-being of youth:

•    Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) keeps status offenders, such as runaways and truants, out of secure facilities;
•    Adult Jail and Lockup removal (Jail Removal) prevents youth from being placed in adults jails and lock-ups (with limited exceptions);
•    Sight and Sound Separation provides that when youth are held with adults (as occurs in limited instances) they be separated by both sight and sound from adult offenders;
•    Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) requires that states address the disproportionate contact of youth of color at key contact points in the juvenile justice system – from arrest to detention to confinement.

By most all accounts, the law has been a success.  The JJDPA has created a national floor that incentivizes states to embrace these core principles.  The federal dollars that flow through the law also help fund both evidence-based programs and promising new innovations and are critical in leveraging other state and local funding to improve state justice systems and reduce recidivism.  Without a strong federal law that is sufficiently resourced, we risk losing a major tool to help sustain current protections for youth and to advance additional reform. 

Unfortunately, federal funding has been repeatedly cut over the last decade.  Federal dollars available to support implementation of the JJDPA and other state and local reforms has steadily declined by 83 percent from 1999 to 2010.   And, the recent budget sequestration has further diminished federal investment in states to develop and implement state and local prevention and early intervention efforts that keep kids on the right track and contribute to the prevention and reduction of youth crime and violence.

Ensuring that the JJDPA does not continue to suffer drastic cuts or is not completely defunded is particularly critical to states’ compliance with the jail removal and separation core protections.  Although funding has diminished drastically since 2000, the limited funding states continue to receive through Title II of the JJDPA has helped the majority of states comply with the core protections.  Loss of JJDPA funds would be a huge step backward as many states would have little incentive or ability to comply with these protections, further undercutting policies to keep youth out of adult jails and prisons and other de-incarceration efforts.

Federally supported juvenile justice programs also enable communities to provide critical treatment and rehabilitative services, in safe conditions, that are tailored to the needs of youth and their families; protects public safety; and holds youth accountable.  Continued federal cuts will threaten these efforts to keep youth and families safe, and keep juvenile crime rates down.

The 39th birthday of this landmark law is the right time to highlight how far we’ve come and to make sure the purpose laid out nearly 40 years ago this month continues to be advanced and supported by Congress.  

In recognition of the passage of the JJDPA, advocates are making September 10 a National Day of Action to call on Congress to invest in the JJDPA and related juvenile justice programs.



Tell Congress we must continue to invest in the policies and programs that work for all our young people.   Tell them JJDPA matters.

This is part of the ACT4JJ Campaign's JJDPA Matters Blog Project, a 16-week series that launched Sept. 10, 2013. You can find the full series at the JJDPA Matters Action Center, click here.



Investing Smarter: Why We Cannot Afford to Shortchange Juvenile Justice

Thursday, 27 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

By Leah Robertson

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) provides funds to states that follow a series of federal protections, commonly known as the “core protections,” to address the care and treatment of youth in the justice system.  It is a modest, targeted investment that not only helps children but also saves money.  Unfortunately, funding for this law has drastically declined over the last decade and continues to be threatened by spending cuts.

 

This is why a wide array of organizations have been sending letters three days a week for the last eight weeks as part of a Letter-A-Day campaign to urge Senate and House Appropriations Committees to maintain funding for key JJDPA and and related juvenile justice programs.  More than XX letters have been sent so far, and other organizations will continue to send their letters throughout the summer. The diversity and number of organizations dedicated to advocating for this funding demonstrates just how far these monies go and their importance to so many communities.

What do these critical federal dollars support?  The funding being advocated for helps states  protect children at risk of unnecessary damage by the justice system, and save money by reducing crime and keeping youth from entering the far more costly justice system. The value added by investing in our youth for tomorrow is far greater than the price tag today. Meanwhile, the cost of inaction is high. According to a Vera Institute study of 4/5 of states’, taxpayers gave $39 billion to corrections in FY2010, and that number continues to climb nonsensically every year. By supporting a modest federal investment through programs like those supported by the JJPDA monies, we will save money both now by reducing the cost of corrections and in the future by reducing incarceration rates.

Diverting children with little risk of future delinquent behavior to community-based programs where they can participate with their peers in positive behavioral model is right and makes sense. We commend all of the groups that have taken action and those that will take action in the coming weeks to maintain this funding and invest in a smarter and brighter tomorrow.

If you are affiliated with an organization interested in participating in the Letter-A-Day campaign, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are an individual who would like to get involved, please sign the House and Senate petitions and share these with your family and friends.

We will continue to update you on this critical effort.

Reforming Juvenile Justice: When Science Meets Common Sense

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

By Leah Robertson

On Monday, June 10, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) discussed the findings of their recently released report: Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. The report found that well-designed, community-based programs are more likely than confinement to reduce recidivism and facilitate healthy social and moral development for most young offenders and that even in the most serious cases of personal violence, criminal court sentences should avoid confining adolescents in adult prisons.


Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Administrator Bob Listenbee spoke briefly about the implications of this research as a critical tool for promoting a positive behavioral model for juvenile justice. He emphasized, “I am confident that there is very strong support for juvenile justice reform at the present time” and reinforced his commitment to increasing OJJDP’s role in disseminating information on states with strong reforms and providing technical assistance to states who want to do the same. 

 
Other speakers included researchers, juvenile justice practitioners, doctors and others with expertise in adolescent development and delinquency. The panelists presented the findings of the report, noting six conclusions in particular:
  1. There are important differences between adults and adolescents that are well-studied and scientifically quantifiable. Much adolescent involvement in illegal activity is an extension of the kind of risk-taking that is part of the developmental process, and most adolescents mature out of these activities.
  2. Knowledge about adolescent development can provide a framework for reforming the juvenile justice system to create a system that bolsters, rather than hinders, positive behavioral development.
  3. Current juvenile justice approaches do not utilize the approaches that promote positive behavioral development such as family and parent engagement, pro-social peer interactions, and opportunities for social development.
  4. Juvenile justice’s overreliance on incapacitation denies kids opportunities for normal socialization and disturbs development.
  5. Over the past 15 years, substantial progress toward positive reforms has been made, but the pace has been slow and there is a disturbing lack of empirical data collection in the field.
  6. OJJDP should take the lead to strengthen the requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in particular the valid court order (VCO) exception, disproportionate minority contact and keeping kids separated from adults.

The panelists and audience concurred that this research will be critical in advocating for reform. Practitioners emphasized that this is the research that juvenile justice experts could see, but they did not have the science to back up their observations. With this data however, there is finally a strong body of science to serve as a base for passing legislation that coordinate juvenile justice practices with the specific needs of young people.  They emphasized that reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act would be critical to this effort.

To do your part to ensure that the juvenile justice system is aligned with what science shows is beneficial to children, families and society, sign the petition to fund juvenile justice reform programs.

What Can Be Done For Girls in the Juvenile Justice System?

Thursday, 06 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

By Mackenzie Tudor

 

On May 17th, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) and The National Crittenton Foundation participated in a workshop entitled, “What Can Be Done For Girls in the Juvenile Justice System?” at the Association for Junior Leagues International Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., where they discussed system-involved girls and girls at risk of becoming involved in the justice system and what can be done to help. The Junior League has a rich history in juvenile justice advocacy and was actively involved in the 1970s and 80s in the development and subsequent reauthorizations of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

Moderated by Jill Ward, panelists CFYJ CEO Liz Ryan, Crittenton Foundation President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, and Just Kids Partnership Advocate Jabreria Handy, spoke about the issues surrounding the rise in the number of girls in the juvenile justice system and the ways that Junior League Members could get involved.

 

The highlight of the event was Jabreria Handy. At the age of 16, Jabreria was charged as an adult in the criminal justice system for a crime that she did not commit. She spent 11 months in the Baltimore City Detention Center before her case was sent back to the juvenile justice system. She now shares her story to help ensure that no youth will ever have to go through what she experienced. Jabreria’s account of her experience as a youth in the adult criminal system had a powerful impact on the workshop attendees. Jabreria emphasized that programming both in and out of the juvenile justice system is crucial and, unfortunately, is not as available to youth incriminated in the adult system. Providing support to these girls is critical to helping them transition back into the community.

Jabreria’s perspective on what girls need was echoed by Jeannette Pai-Espinosa. The National Crittenton Foundation has conducted research on Adverse Childhood Experiences that included girls in the juvenile justice system. Girls in the juvenile justice system are often victims of abuse, neglect, household dysfunction or substance abuse in the home.  As a result, these girls are more likely to be incarcerated for status offenses, offenses that would not be illegal if the individual was an adult, such as running away from home. Once in the system, girls often fail to receive the services they need, and instead are re-traumatized and derailed from educational achievement.

This discussion clearly resonated with many of the women in attendance. Sparked by Jabreria’s story, there was a clear desire from those in attendance to learn more about how they could help the at-risk girls both in and out of the juvenile justice system.

Liz Ryan identified the following key steps to take to start advocating for girls in your communities:

1. Urge your Governor to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to ensure that girls are not placed in adult jails and prisons.


2. Contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to provide more federal resources to address the needs of girls in the justice system.


3.  Reach out to the Juvenile Justice Specialist in your state to get information on how your state is addressing gender-specific programming in its JJDPA state plan. http://www.ojjdp.gov/statecontacts/ResourceList.asp

4. Engage your community and plan an event around October 23rd, National Girls Justice Day. Contact Leah Robertson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

5. Contact the National Girls institute and request technical assistance to create programming in your community.  http://www.nationalgirlsinstitute.org

For more take action steps go here.

Want to learn more about girls in the juvenile justice system? Take a look at CFYJ’s resource list here.