December 18, 2018

Statement of Bob Carlson, ABA president Re: Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Act

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2018 — The American Bar Association commends Congress for reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act (JJDPA) of 2018 and urges President Trump to sign the bill into law. The bipartisan legislation is the first reauthorization of the 1974 law in 16 years and caps a long effort by the ABA to see protections for juveniles strengthened.

The JJDPA demonstrates a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system and safeguards youth in the system. The bill also authorizes vital funds to states and localities for research and technical assistance to improve the system.

The ABA supports the important protections for juveniles in the law, such as not detaining youths for status offenses like alcohol possession, curfew violation or truancy acts that would not be a crime if committed by an adult.  It also removes juvenile offenders from adult jails and prisons, with very limited exceptions, and researches and attempts to address the racial disparity that exists in the juvenile system.

It is our duty as lawyers to protect the vulnerable in our criminal justice system. This bill provides the tools to defend one of the most at-risk groups in our system: juveniles.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.