Former Justice Officials Recognize Critical Federal Role in Juvenile Justice: Call on Congress to Support Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act

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The Campaign for youth Justice announced that six former Administrators from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) called on Congress to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in this session, recognizing the critical role of the federal government in promoting effective juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs throughout the country.

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Congress recognized the need for a federal-state partnership when it first passed the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in 1974

Today, the Campaign for Youth Justice is pleased to announce that six former Administrators from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) called on Congress to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in this session, recognizing the critical role of the federal government in promoting effective juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs throughout the country.

“Congress recognized the need for a federal-state partnership when it first passed the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in 1974,” stated former OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. “Federal standards for the care and custody of youth have played a vital role in state and local juvenile justice systems and must be strengthened now to address the most pressing issues facing the juvenile justice system.”

In a letter to Congress today, which is available on the Campaign’s Web site, the former OJJDP Administrators stated that, “Our nation continues to face challenges in juvenile justice such as the over-reliance on detention and incarceration as a response to juvenile crime; the continued detention of status offenders despite federal prohibitions; pervasive racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system; and the increased placement of children at risk of abuse, sexual assault and suicide in adult jails despite the JJDPA’s original intentions. Reauthorizing the JJDPA at this time underscores the critical role of OJJDP and affords us the opportunity to use and build on this knowledge to create greater justice for youth and to make our communities safer and healthier. We urge you to support reauthorization of this important legislation this Congress and offer ourselves as a resource as the bill moves through the legislative process.”

The letter was signed by:

Shay Bilchik, former OJJDP Administrator (1994 - 2000)
John Rector, former OJJDP Administrator (1977 - 1979)
Verne L. Speirs, former OJJDP Administrator (1987 -1989)
Ira M. Schwartz, former OJJDP Administrator (1979 – 1981)
Robert W. Sweet, Jr, former OJJDP Administrator (1990 – 1992)
John Wilson, former Acting OJJDP Administrator (1993 – 1994, 1999 – 2001)

To view the full text of the letter, visit: http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/documents/ojjdpletter.pdf.

The Campaign for Youth Justice is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

To view testimony of former OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at JJDPA hearings, visit: http://www.act4jj.org/media/documents//document_30.pdf.

For additional information on the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), visit: http://www.act4jj.org.

For more background on former OJJDP Administrators, visit: http://www.youthtoday.org/publication/article.cfm?article_id=3672.

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