In September, PTA will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), the nation’s first comprehensive law designed to prevent children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and to protect those currently in the system. Juvenile justice and delinquency prevention has historically been one of PTA’s key public policy priorities and the association continues to advocate for improvements to the juvenile justice system in the United States. Read more about PTA’s more than 100 years of juvenile justice advocacy.
In 2014, there is still improvement needed to the juvenile justice system in the United States. Loopholes left in the JJDPA, as well as amendments made to the law over the years, have weakened its protections and additional protections are needed in federal law. National PTA’s current official position statement on juvenile justice urges members at all levels to monitor, support, and advocate for laws and programs in the following areas:
- Promote initiatives to address racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in the juvenile justice system.
- Encourage collaboration between law enforcement, the judicial system, and child welfare agencies.
- Promote alternative dispute resolution techniques that provide a range of possible sanctions.
- Prohibit youth who are charged with a serious crime from being tried in the adult court system unless there has been an opportunity for a judicial hearing and appeal.
- Prohibit the incarceration of youth in adult facilities.
- Assist youth leaving the juvenile justice system, and prevent their return.
- Support research and data collection regarding youth offenses.
Today, as we have for over one hundred years, National PTA will continue to advocate for juvenile justice systems across the country that are safe and rehabilitative places for every child.
In September, look out for more information on the JJDPA in PTA’s One Voice Blog. Also check out:
- 2014 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda
- “Status Offenses Don’t Deserve Detention”—Blog by Judge Joan Byer of Kentucky on why JJDPA reauthorization is important to the lives of children and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
- “How the JJDPA Helps to Improve Outcomes for Youth of Color”—Blog by Anna Wong at the W. Haywood Burns Institute, on the importance of the JJDPA’s Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) core protection and how the reauthorization of the JJDPA presents an opportunity to enact policies that would reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.