Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update | December 2016

Federal Juvenile Justice Update | December 2016

December 15, 2016
Melissa Goemann


  • Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA) Did Not Pass
    The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), led by Marcy Mistrett at the Campaign for Youth Justice, exerted enormous effort to get the JJDPDA reauthorized over the course of the 114thCongress. Thanks to all of NJJN's members, partners, and allies who took action to make this happen -- we came very close! 

    Although the House did pass H.R. 5963, a bill reauthorizing the JJDPA, on Sept. 22, 2016, the bill did not make it through the Senate before it adjourned. (The Senate’s version of the bills was S. 1169). As disappointing as this was, great progress was made in terms of educating Congressional members on the importance of improving the JJDPA — in fact, the House bill had a whopping 382 votes in favor of the bill, and there were many bi-partisan Senate champions. 

    We will continue the effort to reauthorize the JJDPA next year. We have amassed a strong bi-partisan coalition of advocates and Congressional members to carry on the fight, and have our sights sets on passing it in the 115th Congress. 


  • Congress Passes the Justice for All Reauthorization Act
    Congress passed the Justice for All Reauthorization Act (S. 2577) on December 1st and the President is expected to sign it. This bill, supported by NJJN, includes important amendments to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), along with other provisions impacting innocence programs, crime labs, and services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

    One of the key PREA amendments is a sunset of the “assurance option.” This option has allowed states to avoid penalties for non-compliance if they offer an assurance that a small percentage of their federal grant funds used for prisons will be used to come into compliance with the Act. Previously, the law had no sunset date for this provision.

    Additional PREA requirements include the following: the Attorney General must post all final state audit reports on its website annually; within two years, the Attorney General must issue a report to Congress on the status of implementation of the national standards and the steps it’s taking to address any unresolved issues; and governors must submit detailed information about their state’s PREA implementation efforts with their annual certification or assurance.

    Thank you to the NJJN members and partners who helped work on this bill and who signed onto letters in its support !


  • President Signs the 21st Century Cures Act
    On December 13, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) into law. This is a sweeping medical innovation package that includes new research funding, mental health and criminal justice reforms, and grants to fight opioid abuse. The package includes language to improve the nation’s mental health system and $1 billion over two years to help fight opioid abuse. 

    The legislation includes important mental health and criminal justice measures, such as the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which addresses the nation’s broken mental health system by refocusing programs, reforming grants, and removing federal barriers to care; the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which strengthens federal programs related to mental health in the criminal justice system by enhancing the ability of families and communities to identify mental illness; and the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, which updates the Mentally Ill Offender and Treatment Crime Reduction Act and facilitates collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health treatment, and substance abuse systems to ensure those with mental illness receive the treatment and help they need.


  • Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth
    In December, the U.S. Department of Education released new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth make a successful transition back to traditional school settings. The resources include a guide written for incarcerated youth; a newly updated transition toolkit and resource guide for practitioners in youth facilities; a document detailing education programs in youth facilities based on data collected by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights; and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with a disability as they transition out of youth facilities. Also included is a letter from Secretary John King on the importance of providing high-quality transition support to youth leaving these facilities.


Photo credit: Flickr user Nick Postorino

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