Washington D.C. – Today, a coalition of more than 100 professors joined together to voice their strong support for reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), legislation that sets forth federal standards to protect children, youth, and families involved with the juvenile and criminal justice system.
As researchers, teachers, and advocates focused on issues affecting youth, the professors stress the importance of this legislation which supports effective prevention programs and ensures that communities are kept safe. The coalition urges Congress to pass these much needed reforms this summer.
The letter was spearheaded by the First Focus Campaign for Children and is signed by 122 professors representing 61 universities. Signatories represent over 31 states, from California and Nevada to Alabama and Kentucky, as well as New York and Vermont.
“Our nation continues to face significant challenges in the juvenile justice area, including racial disparities in the treatment of youth, an over-reliance on detention and incarceration as a response to juvenile crime, and the continual placement of children at risk of abuse, sexual assault and suicide in adult jails,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan child advocacy organization. “By taking action to pass this legislation, Congress will be able to better protect our nation’s vulnerable youth while keeping our communities safe.”
Specifically, the JJDPA provides for the support of:
- Federal funding for delinquency prevention and improvements in state and local juvenile justice programs and practices;
- Operation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a federal agency dedicated to providing training and technical assistance, developing model programs, and supporting research and evaluation; and
- A nationwide juvenile justice planning and advisory system spanning all states, territories and the District of Columbia.
The letter reads, “We strongly support this legislation and the reinvigoration of the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention at the Justice Department. We are confident that implementing these best practices and latest research results will benefit both the children and youth who are at risk of entering the juvenile court system, and those who have already entered the system. We also believe it will help make our communities safer and healthier. We urge Congress to make this legislation a priority in the next few months. Our youth deserve nothing less.”
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