The Act4JJ website has just posted testimony from the experts who attended the September 18 hearing on the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which is up for reauthorization this year. PDFs and videos are available here.
Why is reauthorizing the JJDPA so important? As I wrote a few weeks ago,
The JJDPA–the 1974 law that provides federal funds to state juvenile justice programs–comes up for reauthorization every five years. Technically speaking, it doesn’t need to be reauthorized this year; if it’s not, the law will remain on the books as it’s currently written. Alternatively, it could be reauthorized without any changes at all, or watered down.
The opportunity, then, is to update and thereby strengthen the provisions of the act. This is urgently necessary, for two main reasons: The act as it’s currently written is weak and ineffective, and besides, federal leaders aren’t even enforcing it. Adding some muscle to the act would help to realign priorities at both the state and federal level.
The JJDPA is intended to support alternatives to incarceration, to ensure that juveniles who are locked up are kept separate from adults and to reduce the widespread problem of disproportionate minority confinement. Study after study has found states to be failing in all of these areas.