When Congress convenes for its ‘Lame Duck’ session after the November election, one of the issues it could take up is the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act. The bill, which has strong bi-partisan support, is a reauthorization of a law that withholds federal funding from states that hold minors in adult jails. However, the new bill would extend that protection to juveniles who have been charged with adult crimes, but are still awaiting trial. The legislation would also ban locking up minors for status offenses, such as truancy or breaking curfew.
The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives before the fall recess. A similar version of the bill has passed a Senate committee. Sponsors are hopeful the versions can be reconciled and sent to President Obama before he leaves office.
Over the last few years, bipartisan momentum has been growing for major criminal justice reform, especially in the area of federal sentencing. While those efforts have faltered in this election year, passage of the juvenile justice reform measure would be a significant achievement.
In recent years, the MCC has also advocated for juvenile justice reform measures in the General Assembly.