Yesterday, Congress passed H.R. 6964, a bill that reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Last authorized in 2002, the JJDPA sets forth critically important federal guidance on the safe treatment of youth involved in the justice system. A sample of the notable changes to the JJDPA contained in the bill includes:
- States must collect data and establish plans to address racial and ethnic disparities (changing the previous focus on disproportionate minority contact).
- States must ensure, within three years of the law’s enactment, sight and sound separation and jail removal for youth charged as adults who are awaiting trial or other legal processes (expanding the protection beyond youth held on juvenile court charges).
- States must submit plans that: are supported by or take account of the science regarding adolescent development; provide alternatives to detention; engage families in service delivery; use community-based services to serve at-risk or system-involved youth; and promote evidence-based and trauma-informed programs and practices.
- States must implement plans, within two years of the law’s enactment, to eliminate the use of restraints on pregnant girls housed in secure detention and correctional facilities.
The bill now goes to the desk of the President for final signature before becoming law.