WASHINGTON — The federal committee of state stakeholders that advises the administration on juvenile justice matters supports updates to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection Act — and more money to implement changes.
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice on Monday voted 8-2 for a slate of recommendations related to the reauthorization of the JJDPA, the law that sets standards for juvenile justice programs.
States must comply with the law to receive funding for their programs. Legislation that would update the law has cleared a Senate committee and is expected to reach the Senate floor this fall.
The committee’s recommendations support many of those updates, such as increased data collection and reporting requirements, as long as additional funding is provided.
The panel also recommended the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should only consider punitive funding reductions as a last resort if a state is not in compliance with the JJDPA.
The committee has said previously that the law needs to be reauthorized and get more funding, but the new slate of recommendations is more specific.
“We’ve seen some movement, we’re hopeful for movement, so it seemed like the right time to weigh in,” said Jim Moeser, vice chair of the committee and deputy director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, after the meeting.
Data collection and improved accountability are critical, but states vary widely in how prepared they are to collect and report new measures, he said.
“The reality is far from where we need to be, and the expense is probably more than people realize,” he said.
The committee also supported:
- phasing out the “valid court order” exception that allows children who commit status offenses — such as truancy or curfew violations — to be detained;
- accountability measures for reducing ethnic and racial disparities;
- new limits to keep youth under age 18 out of adult confinement facilities, and
- an increase in federal funding for juvenile justice programs.
Committee member George Timberlake, a retired chief judge of the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Illinois and chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, said during debate on the recommendations that they strike the right balance between encouraging compliance and the need for adequate funding.
“Having been there and our state having been on the grill, I suggest these are reasonable responses,” he said.
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