Originally enacted in 1974, the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJPDA) sets standards for the care and custody of juveniles and provides direct funding to states and counties for research, training, and technical assistance.  Programs funded in JJDPA assist counties in investing in collaborative, community-based delinquency prevention efforts to reach high-risk youth. For instance, the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) Program assists counties in gang prevention and anti-bullying initiatives; graduated sanctions programs that include counseling, restitution, community service and supervised probation; substance abuse programs; mental health screening and treatment; reentry and restorative justice programs

Reauthorization of this important piece of legislation is seven years overdue.  Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the JJDPA was introduced in the Senate on April 30, 2015 by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), as S. 1169, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015.  On July 23, 2015 the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 1169.  Similar legislation to reauthorize the JJDPA was introduced in the House by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), as H.R. 2728, the Youth Justice Act of 2015.

The proposed bill includes several measures that would strengthen JJPDA’s protections for youth and improve outcomes for young people and communities.    Support for reauthorization crosses the political spectrum and includes groups representing police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, the National Association of Counties, and the American Bar Association.    The JJDPA was last reauthorized 12 years ago and the proposed legislation would update the law to reflect more recent research on juvenile justice best practices.  Reauthorization is not a certainty, so please engage Congress and urge them to take action on this important piece of legislation.