Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update - August 2021

Federal Juvenile Justice Update - August 2021

August 26, 2021
Melissa C. Goemann

Urge Senate Appropriations Committee to Approve Strong Funding for Youth Justice

The Senate will be taking up appropriations bills when they return from recess. Congress must ensure full funding of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) so that states have the capacity to successfully implement the law and provide services to young people that can divert them away from the justice system. President Biden's proposed budget would allocate $796 million towards youth justice, including $100 million towards closing facilities. 
Urge the Senate to invest in youth by fully funding the JJDPA at the proposed levels in the President’s budget by completing this action alert.  
Below are the details of the President’s budget proposal:
President's Proposal

  • Title II: increase from $67 million in FY21 to $250 million;
  • Youth Mentoring: increase from $100 million to $120 million; 

  • Title V: $100 million, including $10 million to prevent trafficking of girls (currently 2 million); $30 million for tribal nations (currently $10 million); $500,000 for an internet site to provide information of children of incarcerated parents; $15 million for girls in the justice system (up from $3 million); $16 million for opioid affected youth (up from $10 million); $18 for children exposed to violence (up from $8 million); $10.5 million for Youth PROMISE grants; 

  • $6 million (up from $3.5 million) to train judges on child abuse; and  

  • $40 million (up from $2.5) to improve indigent defense for youth. 

First Step Implementation Act and Bipartisan Legal Reform Bill Package for Children 

The First Step Implementation Act of 2021 (S.1014) will be moving forward after the Senate comes back from recess. This is a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) that would end juvenile life without parole in the federal system by providing release eligibility after twenty years to children who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. 
A bipartisan package of legislation, which includes H.R. 2858 by Congressman Bruce Westerman (R- AR), H.R. 2908 by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D- CA), and H.R. 2834 by Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D- CA), was introduced this spring. This legislative package is intended to create more equitable, trauma-informed, and age-appropriate measures for children who come into contact with the federal criminal justice system.
Here is how you can help!  

  • Contact Melissa Coretz Goemann, NJJN Senior Policy Counsel, at goemann@njjn.org if you can participate in virtual legislative meetings with congressional offices to educate them on these bills. You would be part of a national team and we can help to prepare you. 

  • Click here to send an email to your Senator telling them to end juvenile life without parole. 

National Sign-on Letters and Comments

Please see below for a list of the national letters that NJJN has signed since our last newsletter and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list:
  • July 29, 2021 – Sign-on letter in support of the proposal in S.1927 (CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) Reauthorization Act of 2021) to guarantee legal counsel for children and parents involved in child welfare court proceedings. The letter urges the House Committee to incorporate similar language into the final bill, incorporating recommended revisions which will better complement existing state law and facilitate broader community support.  

  • August 12, 2021 – Letter by the Coalition for Smart Safety and allies in strong opposition to the Luke and Alex School Safety Act of 2021 (S.111/H.R. 750) which focuses on measures such as threat mitigation, incident response, SROs, and hardening schools to make schools safe rather than restorative justice and other positive behavior practices.  

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