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Members Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Juvenile Justice System

Legislation will strengthen prevention and rehabilitation support for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders

Republican and Democrat members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce introduced the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (H.R. 5963). Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to help state and local leaders better serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders.

“Many children are born into circumstances out of their control and believe the only path forward is one of crime or delinquency,” Rep. Curbelo said. “The purpose of this legislation is to help those children understand there is a better path forward and success is within their reach. These bipartisan reforms will deliver state and local leaders the tools they need to help the most vulnerable kids in their communities put the past behind them and work toward a brighter future. I want to thank Ranking Member Scott for all he has done to move this issue forward and for working together to deliver these bipartisan reforms.”

“The JJDPA has been due to be reauthorized for nearly ten years. In that time, many states have had successes implementing evidence-based and trauma-informed practices to improve the delivery of delinquency prevention services to youth,” Ranking Member Scott said. “At the federal level, we must continue to incentivize a focus on evidence-based prevention and intervention initiatives which reduce delinquency and save money. Making sure we get juveniles in the system or at risk of delinquency off the wrong track and back in school on the way to college or a career is one of the most common sense, cost-effective actions we can take to improve our communities. I’m pleased that we were able to work together and find common ground to advance national juvenile justice policy.”

“All children deserve the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success—even when they make mistakes or the odds are stacked against them,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “This bipartisan bill includes positive reforms that will help state and community leaders keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and provide juvenile offenders the second chance they need to turn their lives around. I commend Congressman Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott for their leadership in delivering these positive solutions and working to help put more children on the right path.”

“The costs associated with incarceration and the overcrowding of prisons demonstrate the need for investments in preventing crimes,” Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) said. “A reauthorization of the JJDPA, which is long overdue, will help ensure these proven programs maintain their effectiveness.”

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 been able to help children develop the life skills they need to hold themselves accountable and achieve success, not all programs have seen the same results.

To help state and local leaders explore and implement better ways to educate and rehabilitate at-risk youth and juvenile offenders, Rep. Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott—along with Chairman Kline and Reps. Davis, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL)—introduced the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act. The bipartisan legislation includes reforms to:
  • Provide states and local leaders 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 supporting prevention services.

  • Prioritize evidence-based strategies with proven track records 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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