New York Time’s Editorial: Kids and Jails, a Bad Combination

The New York Time’s Editorial on the Juvenile Justice and Delinqueny Prevention Act (JJDPA) is on today’s New York Times.

The essence of the JJDPA is a set of protections for young people caught up in a criminal justice system built for grown-ups. In the past, juvenile offenders were routinely locked up with adults, exposing them to physical and sexual abuse and making them more likely to break the law again when they got out. The act, built on an awareness that young people are different, offers federal dollars to states that house juvenile inmates in their own facilities or, where that is not possible, keep them strictly separated from the adults. It also bars the counterproductive practice of throwing children in jail for “status offenses” like skipping school, running away or violating a curfew — behavior for which no adult would be punished.

Despite of the Act, some judges would rely on the exception rule that allow to detain some youth who were warned not to reoffend, leading 8800 children in detention for status offense in 2011.

On Dec. 11, Senators Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, introduced a bill to reauthorize the act for the first time in more than a decade.

The reauthorization would phase out the status-offense exception, increase educational opportunities in detention and help states reduce persistent racial disparities in juvenile incarceration.

Read full article here.

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