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Committee Advances Bill to Support Youth Opportunity, Improve Juvenile Justice System

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act. Introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), the bipartisan 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. The bill passed unanimously by voice vote.

“We all want our kids to have a chance to succeed in life, but too many children don’t realize that success is an option for them or don’t know how to achieve it,” Rep. Curbelo said. “This bipartisan legislation makes a number of commonsense reforms that will improve services for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders, but it’s really about opportunity. These reforms will help vulnerable kids realize they have an opportunity to work toward a brighter future, and it will help them find the support they need to seize that opportunity. I am proud to partner with Ranking Member Scott on this important effort and look forward to continuing our work together to advance these positive solutions.”

“Today we worked across the aisle to pass delinquency prevention legislation that is ‘smart,’ not ‘tough’ on juvenile crime,” Ranking Member Scott said.  “While we still have a long way to go, I am proud of the steps we, as a nation, are taking to end the school-to-prison-pipeline. Today’s committee action—and the collaborative work of this committee—gives me hope that we can get a full JJDPA reauthorization over the finish line this year. The Senate Judiciary Committee has marked up and passed its version of JJDPA, and I know Senators Grassley and Whitehouse are working hard to get their bill out of their chamber. I am optimistic that today’s strong bipartisan support—for a bill that builds on the knowledge and experience of the past 14 years—spurs further action and makes its way to the President’s desk for a signature.”

“Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success, and this important legislation will help provide vulnerable youth the second chance they need to seize that opportunity,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “I want to thank Representative Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott, along with our other colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for their hard work on this bipartisan bill. Together we have advanced reforms that will improve our juvenile justice system, strengthen our communities, and provide some of our most vulnerable kids a brighter future. I look forward to continuing this important effort in the weeks ahead.”

“This is a strong bipartisan bill that supports the proven approaches many states are taking to direct young people toward prevention programs,” Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) said. “It sends the message to those working very hard in these fields that we are listening and are working to direct resources in the proper way.”

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. 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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