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, turns 40 this September. Each month leading up to this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.
This piece originally appeared on The Hill and is reprinted here with permission.
The event highlighted the need to both reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), and to have an educated judiciary.
On March 12th, I had the chance to speak at a Capitol Hill Roundtable hosted by the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in conjunction with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
The JJDPA provides core protections for children who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, Congress has not acted to reauthorize this legislation in more than a decade.
Among the JJDPA’s key provisions is an assurance that children who commit so-called “status offenses” are not placed in secure detention. Status offenses include behaviors such as coming home after curfew, skipping school, and running away from home. They are behaviors that constitute a crime only because the person committing them is younger than 18.