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Following the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, H.R. 1809, which reauthorizes and improves the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974, FreedomWorks Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs Jason Pye commented:
“The entire purpose of the juvenile justice system should be to address the needs of minors, rehabilitate them, and put them on a road that will lead to successful, productive lives. Conservative states like Texas and Georgia have led on this issue, sending fewer minors to state facilities. The results have been savings for taxpayers and, as recidivism declined, fewer arrests of minors.
“The reason juvenile justice reforms have been so successful in the states is because lawmakers are using a data-driven approach to reduce recidivism. The Juvenile Justice Reform Act emphasizes that approach. Particularly appealing about this bill is that it phases out the detention of so-called ‘status offenders’ – minors who are detained for an offense that is only an offense because of the age of the offender. These offenses include running away from home and truancy. Detaining minors for offenses such as these rather than addressing the root causes that have led to this behavior does little more than expose a minor to an unforgiving system.
“There is so much more that can be done on juvenile justice, but we hope that the Senate will pass JJDPA reauthorization this year with language that phases out the current treatment of status offenders. Since states have shown that a data-driven approach works, this should be an easy vote in the upper chamber to cast.”