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Committee Approves Bill to Enhance Opportunity for Vulnerable Youth, Improve Juvenile Justice

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved H.R. 1809, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017. Introduced by Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders.

“I’ve been talking about criminal justice reform for years — and it starts by ensuring kids have the resources and skills to turn their lives around and grow into productive members of society,” Rep. Lewis said. “We need common-sense reforms to strengthen our juvenile justice system and get our children on the right track. The Juvenile Justice Reform Act provides our communities with the ability to offer that second chance to anyone who wants to turn their life around, and improves accountability and oversight of these important systems. I’m proud that these ideas have earned the support of so many of my colleagues today.”

“Today’s bipartisan Committee work brings us one step closer to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline,” Ranking Member Scott said. “H.R. 1809, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, includes necessary improvements to federal juvenile crime policy that are firmly grounded in evidence. The bill strengthens the core mandates that provide a floor of protections for juveniles in all states. It also ensures public dollars are invested in a continuum of trauma-informed care and alternatives to incarceration and secure detention because that’s what will produce positive results for at-risk youth that lead to reduced crime and long-term savings.”

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to make a change for the better, and that’s what the reforms in this legislation are all about,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. “By enhancing accountability, oversight, and prevention, the bill will help state and local leaders better serve at-risk youth in their communities. I’d like to thank my colleagues Representative Lewis and Ranking Member Scott for their leadership. Together, they put forward a bipartisan proposal that will make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children across the country.”

BACKGROUND: Since 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has coordinated federal resources aimed at improving state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. While many of these state juvenile justice programs have helped children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and achieve success, not all programs have seen the same results.

To improve education and rehabilitation of at-risk youth and juvenile offenders, Rep. Lewis and Ranking Member Scott introduced the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation includes reforms to:

  • Provide states and local leaders greater flexibility to deliver services that meet the specific needs of delinquent youth in their communities.
  • Promote opportunities for juvenile offenders to acquire skills necessary to grow into productive members of society.
  • Help at-risk youth avoid the juvenile justice system by improving support for prevention services.
  • Prioritize evidence-based strategies and long-term solutions for addressing juvenile delinquency.
  • Improve accountability and oversight at all levels of the juvenile justice system.

To read a fact sheet on the bill, click here.

To read a more detailed bill summary, click here.

To read the bill, click here.

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