Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA)
The JJDPA was established in 1974 and is the single most important piece of federal legislation affecting youth in juvenile justice systems across the country. It is the primary vehicle through which the federal government sets standards for state and local juvenile justice systems, and provides direct funding for states, research, training and technical assistance, and evaluation.
The JJDPA expired in the fall of 2007 and is currently two years overdue for reauthorization. In 2009, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Senator Arlen Specter, and Senators Herb Kohl and Richard Durbin introduced Senate Bill 678. The bill was voted on and passed in Committee in December 2009 and is currently awaiting a vote by the full Senate (for more details on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act please see JJDPA factsheet).
There are a number of improvements to the JJDPA in S 678. These improvements should be enhanced by the inclusion of language specific to needs of girls who are often neglected in the data collection process, development of innovative prevention and treatment programs and research and evaluation efforts. Recommendations include the following changes:
For more information on the reauthorization of the JJDPA and to get involved please contact the Act 4 JJ Coalition for more information: http://www.act4jj.org/
- Add an accountability mechanism for the existing state plan requirement, which is often ignored.
- Require at least one member of the State Advisory Group to have expertise in gender-specific services.
- Direct funding to gender-specific prevention and treatment programs under Title V Delinquency Prevention grants.
- Eliminate the Valid Court Order exception for Status Offenders.
- Increase research and information dissemination on effective practices.
Youth Promise Act
The Youth Promise Act (YPA) was reintroduced in the 111th Congress by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Mike Castle (R-DE) in the House and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in the Senate. YPA is a bipartisan effort to address current policies that focus on punishment and incarceration of troubled youth by shifting the focus and support for evidence-based prevention and intervention efforts to address juvenile delinquency.
Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2009 in the Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law in December 2009. The bill which is cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (WA), John Corny (TX), Al Franken (D-MN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) authorizes the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs to award one-year block grants to up to six states or local governments in different regions of the U.S. that have significant trafficking to combat child sexual exploitation in their communities. If adopted the funds would be used to provide shelter and services to victims of sex trafficking and for training for law enforcement and social service.
Second Chance Act of 2007
The main purpose of the Second Chance Act of 2007 is to reform the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to include reauthorization and expansion of provisions and assistance to offenders being released from prisons and jails nationwide. Additionally, the Act provides for the expansion of state and local reentry demonstration projects to provide expanded services to offenders and their families for reentry into society, as well as the necessary services to remain productive members of society. Each year, as approximately 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons and between 10 and 12 million more are released from local jails, they struggle with substance abuse, lack of adequate education and job skills, and mental health issues, and a large number of these people return to prison within three years of their release due to inadequate services and opportunities.
Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA)
VAWA is a United States law and was passed as Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 HR 3355 and signed as Public Law 103-322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. It provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. VAWA will be up for reauthorization in 2011.