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2017 Press Releases

Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Federal Juvenile Justice Law Introduced in Congress

Posted in 2017 Press Releases

Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Federal Juvenile Justice Law Introduced in Congress


March 30, 2017

H.R. 1809 is first step in effort to finish unfinished business from last year to reauthorize and strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to strengthen and update the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA).  H.R. 1809, introduced by Representative[JW1]  Jason Lewis (R-MN) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), reflect the commitment of this new Congress to complete unfinished business left over from last year and ensure that this landmark law is renewed. 

Last year, similar legislation was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, 382-29, and a nearly identical bipartisan bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Efforts to approve final legislation in the closing days of the 114th Congress were not successful.

“Today’s action reaffirms the bipartisan commitment to this successful law, which – for more than 40 years – has strengthened states’ ability to keep children and youth out of the justice system, protect those young people in custody, and advance evidence-based practices to help youth get back on track and keep communities safe,” said Marcy Mistrett, Co-chair of the ACT4JJ Campaign and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice.  “We applaud the steadfast leadership of Representatives Lewis and Scott for making renewal of this law a priority in the first session of the 115th Congress.”

Signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies an important state-federal partnership that serves 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. 

"We're pleased to see that the JJDPA continues to be a priority for Congress in 2017 and are grateful for all of the hard work that has gone into this bill's introduction,” said Naomi Smoot, Co-Chair of the ACT4JJ Campaign and Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.  “Reauthorizing the JJDPA makes sense socially and fiscally, and we are hopeful that the legislation will become law soon."

More than nine 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 juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements.

H.R. 1809 would build upon these national standards by reducing the placement of youth in adult jails pre-trial, providing more structure to the law’s requirement to decrease racial and ethnic disparities, and calling on states to phase out exceptions that allow the detention of youth who have engaged in status offense behaviors.  The bill also promotes the use of alternatives to incarceration; supports the implementation of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices; calls for the elimination of dangerous practices in confinement, including the use of restraints on pregnant girls; improves conditions and educational services for incarcerated youth; focuses on the particular needs of special youth population such as trafficked youth and Tribal youth; and increases accountability.

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org


About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.

CFYJ Board Welcomes Two New Members

Posted in 2017 Press Releases

The Campaign for Youth Justice is happy to announce our newest members to the Board of Directors, Jorja Leap and René Bryce-Laporte.

Jorja Leap has been a member of the UCLA faculty since 1992. As a trained anthropologist and recognized expert in crisis intervention and trauma response, she has worked nationally and internationally in violent and post-war settings. Dr. Leap has been involved with training and research for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of post-war development and conflict resolution in Bosnia and Kosovo. Closer to home, she worked with the families of victims of the 9/11 WTC disaster. Since that time, Dr. Leap has focused on gangs, youth development, juvenile and criminal justice, and reentry at the local, national and international level.  

René Bryce-Laporte is an experienced advocate, convener, facilitator, program designer, trainer, technical assistance provider and director of multi-site programs advancing social and economic opportunity for low-wealth individuals in America. Over nearly 17 years, he has developed significant and varied experience and contacts in the poverty-alleviation field. René serves as an independent consultant with expertise in workforce development, asset-building, financial education, strategic planning and meeting coordination and facilitation. René serves on the Board of Directors of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Before launching his consultancy, René served with Skills for America's Future (SAF), an initiative of the Aspen Institute. SAF promotes and encourages partnerships between business and community colleges to match education and training to jobs. He previously served as a Senior Associate at the Community Strategies Group at Aspen Institute working on asset-building, rural community development and collaborations with community foundations. Previously, René served as Financial Education Specialist at the now-defunct Pennsylvania Office of Financial Education, working with community-based financial education providers, public and private agencies, and Pennsylvania residents. 


About the Campaign For Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. For additional information, please visit www.cfyj.org.

Congratulations to New York on Raising The Age

Posted in 2017 Press Releases

April 10, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) welcomes the news that legislation to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18 has been passed as part of NY’s Executive Budget. Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Flanagan, worked extended hours to ensure that raise the age passed as part of the Executive Budget.

“This legislation will keep more young people out of the dangerous adult criminal justice system," said Marcy Mistrett, CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice. “It will also lead to better outcomes for public safety, as children who retain access to the educational and rehabilitative programs of the juvenile justice system are known to have significantly lower rates of recidivism than those who are tried and punished as adults. Given the presumption of family court origination for the vast majority of youth, the removal of youth from adult facilities, and the youth-part that allows case by case review, this is one of the strongest raise the age bills passed to date.”

The Campaign for Youth Justice congratulates the hundreds of advocates across the state who organized the efforts to ensure this remained one of the Governor’s priorities, including the tenacious leadership from the Children’s Defense Fund, the Citizens Committee for Children and the Correctional Association of New York.

New York looks to join the growing list of states that have embraced this common-sense reform, which includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and South Carolina.  Missouri, and Texas already have similar legislation pending this year.  They are joined by North Carolina, which is the only state left who sets 16 as the age of criminal responsibility.

As a recent report published by the Justice Policy Institute makes clear, states that have implemented Raise the Age legislation have seen juvenile crime rates fall, while feared costs have failed to materialize. CFYJ commends New York state legislative leadership, Speaker Flanagan, and Governor Cuomo for this achievement. There is a reason this reform has gained such traction across party lines and in all parts of the country. It is good for youth, good for public safety, and it works.


About the Campaign For Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.


New Report Highlights Shift in Policy to "Raise The Age" of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

Posted in 2017 Press Releases

New Report Highlights Shift in Policy to

In The Last Ten Years, Juvenile Crime Has Declined and Juvenile Corrections Costs Stabilized in States That Have Raised The Age  

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2017) — A new report shows that over the past decade, half of the states that had previously excluded all 16- and/or 17-year-olds from juvenile court based solely on their age absorbed these young people into the youth justice system without significantly increasing taxpayer costs, and the number of youth in the adult system nationwide was nearly cut in half.

According to a new report issued today by the Justice Policy Institute, "Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System", while there were dire predictions that states that “raised the age” would be overwhelmed, by shifting to better practices, these states kept young people safe, enhanced public safety, and effectively managed  taxpayer dollars.

Since 2007, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have all passed laws to raise the age. In 2017, each of the seven remaining states—Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin—are considering some type of legislative proposal that would raise the age from 17 and/or 16 years of age to 18 years of age.

“The seven states considering proposals to raise the age this year can move youth from the adult court, jails and prisons into the youth justice system, safe in the knowledge that they can make the change without significantly increasing costs, and keep youth and communities safer,” said Marc Schindler, Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute.

Before Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts absorbed 16-or-17-year-olds into their youth justice system, there were dire predictions that the change would overwhelm the courts and youth corrections. Instead, taxpayer costs were kept in check and juvenile crime continued to fall.  

“This report highlights the impressive impact of raising the age to 18 in states; and is a call to action for other states contemplating reforms this legislative session," said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. "Raising the Age helps reduce costly commitments, makes communities safer by providing youth with age appropriate services that gets them back on track, and promotes fairness by helping states and localities develop more effective justice systems.”

States that raised the age avoided fears that the youth justice system would be overwhelmed for a number of reasons, including that the fiscal impact statements offered by stakeholders in Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts were limited and did not project true expenditure trends.  Youth justice systems also managed the change by shifting to more cost effective practices that are more likely to help a young person move past delinquency and reduce the chances a youth will reoffend, including reduced reliance on confinement.

A major reason why states are raising the age is to keep youth safe.

Youth incarcerated in an adult facility are the group most at risk of sexual assault. Sheriffs, along with juvenile and adult corrections officials have called on lawmakers to raise the age to keep youth safe and avoid building new adult jails and prisons, and comply with federal laws, such as the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

About Justice Policy Institute:
JPI is dedicated to reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system by promoting fair and effective policies. For more JPI publications on the justice system, visit www.justicepolicy.org.

About the Campaign For Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. For additional information, please visit www.cfyj.org.

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