Members Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enhance Opportunity for Vulnerable Children

WASHINGTON, DC – Republican and Democratic members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce today introduced the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1809). Sponsored by Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) 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. Upon introduction, members issued the following statements:

“All our kids deserve the opportunity to be successful and have a second chance. My bill is about getting young people back on track and working to reform criminal justice — especially for those kids who are most at-risk,” Rep. Lewis said. “It’s a privilege to stand with parents, educators, and police officers to advocate for a system that helps young people grow into productive members of society. I'm proud to work with Ranking Member Scott on this important issue and bring solutions that will make our country a better, safer place.”

“The JJDPA was last reauthorized in 2002, and over the last 15 years there has been a wealth of research to determine what works best to prevent young people from getting into trouble, and how to best intervene in their lives when they do get in trouble,” Ranking Member Scott said. “The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017 incentivizes the use of evidence-based approaches to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, and strengthens the floor of protections for children in juvenile facilities around the country. These are not partisan policies – they are responsible solutions that recognize investing in children to get them on the right track and keep them there both prevents crime and saves money.”

"Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue a better path forward, regardless of their personal circumstances or the mistakes they’ve made in life,”
Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. “I commend Representative Lewis and Ranking Member Scott for leading the effort to expand that opportunity for juvenile offenders and at-risk youth. This bipartisan bill will make a positive difference for families and communities across the country. It will empower state and local leaders as they work to provide the support and fresh start vulnerable youth need to succeed in life."

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 the bill, click here.

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