CFYJ and the National PTA: Dedicated to Juvenile Justice Reform
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.
The National PTA has been a leader and strong partner in juvenile justice reform since the early 1900s, being one of the strongest proponents of a separate juvenile justice system. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s the PTA developed guides and recommendations to assist states and federal systems in the development of youth focused judicial systems. Seeing such strong efforts early on, it comes as no surprise that the National PTA provides such a clear statement on the treatment of youth in the adult criminal justice system:
"A founding purpose of National PTA is to promote safety for children and youth. National PTA urges its members at all levels to monitor, support, and advocate for laws and programs in the following areas:
● Promote initiatives to address racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in the juvenile justice system.
● Encourage collaboration between law enforcement, the judicial system, and child welfare agencies.
● Promote alternative dispute resolution techniques that provide a range of possible sanctions.
● Prohibit youth who are charged with a serious crime from being tried in the adult court system unless there has been an opportunity for a judicial hearing and appeal.
● Prohibit the incarceration of youth in adult facilities.
● Assist youth leaving the juvenile justice system, and prevent their return.
● Support research and data collection regarding youth offenses."
The National PTA plays a vital role at the federal level as we work together to strengthen protections for all youth involved in the justice system, in addition to supporting state level efforts to keep more youth out of the system. We thank the National PTA for inviting us to such an important conference and look forward to our continued partnership.