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Federal Update - October 2018

October 1, 2018
Melissa Goemann

Federal Juvenile Justice Update

October 1, 2018

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

Both the House and Senate passed JJDPA reauthorization bills last year with overwhelming bipartisan support (S. 860 and H.R. 1809), and there are no significant substantive obstacles to reconciling the bills. On September 28th, the House passed H.R. 6964, a bipartisan bill intended to reconcile the House and Senate versions. We need to continue to make our voices heard in order to prompt Congress to get this bill over the finish line. That’s why Act4JJ, of which NJJN is a member, created the Letter-a-Day campaign with help from our partners at SparkAction.

Go to this link for an easy way to take action on Instagram, use the action alert system to send a message to your Member of Congress, and sign up to send an organizational letter. Talking points and guidelines are provided.


OJJDP’s Latest Actions May Weaken State Work on Racial and Ethnic Disparities

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has made recent changes to the amount and type of data and information that states are required to provide them pursuant to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) that could have the effect of weakening state work on reducing disparities. States are required by the JJDPA to address and reduce the disproportionate number of youth of color who come into contact with the youth justice system – this has become known as the “disproportionate minority contact (DMC) core protection.” Regulations require data collection, assessment of the problem, and an intervention plan for action. Guidelines and a methodology for data collection were provided in OJJDP’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement (DMC) Technical Assistance Manual.

OJJDP has made the following changes to state work on DMC through their new Title II grant application:

  • Reduced the number of data collection points from 9 to 5
  • Changed some of the remaining collection points
  • No longer is requiring use of the Relative Rate Index (RRI) in reporting the data, which was used specifically to help gage disproportionality.
  • Rescinded the DMC Technical Assistance Manual which provided detailed guidance on data collection and assessment.
  • No longer requires states to do a thorough assessment of their DMC issue and a timeline for reducing DMC, as the regulations had required. Instead, states can come up with their own goals and define what success would look like.
  • Emphasis is placed on protecting the public while working to reduce DMC – making a false assumption that reducing DMC can lead to harm to the public.

We urge you to contact your State Advisory Groups (SAGs), who are responsible for state compliance with the JJDPA, to let them know that DMC reduction must still be a key priority and that you still expect robust data collection by your state.

Electoral Advocacy

During this election season you have the opportunity to elevate the issue of youth justice with candidates and encourage them to make it a priority. We can help you with that! See the following resources:


Sentencing Reform for Youth in the Federal Justice System

Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced HR 6011, which would end life-without-parole and de facto life sentences for children in the federal criminal justice system by ensuring that their sentences are subject to review and judicial modification after they have served 20 years in prison. The legislation is modeled after similar laws that have passed in 20 other states and the District of Columbia, including Congressman Westerman's state, Arkansas. Westerman has been joined by bipartisan co-sponsors -- Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas). The United States is the only country known to impose life without the possibility of parole on people under the age of 18. We hope that you will join us in supporting this bill.


National Sign-on Letters

Youth involved with the justice system often intersect with many other systems serving marginalized populations – such as child welfare, immigration, public health, and housing. To best serve our youth, NJJN signs onto a number of national letters on these issues throughout the year. Please see below for a list of the national letters that NJJN has signed since our last newsletter earlier in the summer and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list:

9/13/18 – Organizational sign-on letter urging the U.S. Dept. of Justice to stop delaying the implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (DCRA).

9/12/18 - Updated community sign-on letter supporting the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders (RExO) program at Department of Labor.  This updated letter makes the final FY19 request for Congress to fully fund the RExO program at $93 million, the FY18 funding level.  The Senate-passed FY19 bill and the House Appropriations Committee-passed FY19 bill both would appropriate $93 million to RExO.

9/7/18 – Organizational sign-on letter opposing a proposed request by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) for information from state agencies about inmates’ citizenship and country of birth.

8/29/18 – Organizational sign-on letter to the Senate opposing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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