Justice Reform: Youth Justice Act Focused on Prevention

Justice Reform: Youth Justice Act Focused on Prevention


Though so many believe Congress really doesn’t do much of anything, progress remains all but certain on justice reform over the next year and a half.  One of the few rare bi-partisan issues is criminal justice reform.

With a comprehensive bill set to be offered in a few weeks and progress on police body cameras in the House this week, there is good reason to believe that even more will happen on the issue.  Sen. Tim Scott is soon to drop his language on body cameras as well.

Today Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Karen Bass (D-CA) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced the Youth Justice Act of 2015.  The legislation mirrors what Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is doing with his bill, S.2999, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015.  The bills have not been reauthorized in a a decade.  

“The Youth Justice Act builds on the strong framework of our colleagues in the Senate… on how we can make our system even safer and more responsive to our youth,” said Rep. Scott.  The legislation focus on prevention and forces states to confront entrenched patterns in the juvenile justice system.

Rep. Bass pointed out that girls are the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice population and that half of the states in America spend at least $100,000 a year per youth in jail. 

“We know that supporting programs that keep our children out of jail is one of the best investments we can make,” said Rep. Richmond.

There have been several bills that were considered long shots, yet they became law.  Though the Youth Justice Act has a high bar to jump, only time will tell.  


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Lauren Victoria Burke
Twitter: @LVBurke / Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist who analyses politics and justice reform. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke has also been a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears weekly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin. She has also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. She is also a contributing writer for NBCNews.com and TheRoot.com Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail: LBurke007@gmail.com. Instagram: LVB325.