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Tony C.
Democrat CA 29

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  • Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017

    by Representative Tony Cárdenas

    Posted on 2017-05-23

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    CARDENAS. Mr. Speaker, I also want to take the opportunity to thank my colleague for all of his diligence and incredible effort to make sure that we are here today with the successful passage of this important legislation.

    The bill we are considering today, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017, is a bill that puts Congress back in the driver's seat of evidence-based reform of our Nation's juvenile justice system. For far too long, Congress has failed to reauthorize the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act passed in 1974. The most important Federal juvenile justice statute has been expired for almost a decade.

    I came to Congress to effect change at a national level and to serve the people of my district and all of the people across this great country. Congress has fallen behind the leadership and the progress of Democratic and Republican States alike and cities, as well, across the Nation who have had to take the lead without us. Passing this bill is a step in the right direction and will demonstrate to States and cities across this great country that Congress is listening and acting.

    This bill addresses many of the issues that I have been working on in my career as a State legislator, as a city councilman, and now as a Federal elected public servant. For instance, it helps cities and local organizations fund community-based gang prevention and intervention programs.

    When I was on the Los Angeles City Council, I made sure that organizations receiving taxpayer dollars from our city were actually achieving the results that they had promised. I am pleased that this bill includes a strong emphasis on research and science and making sure that evidence-based programs are prioritized. It ensures that we are supporting programs and organizations that work, which will save the taxpayers billions of dollars in the short run, hundreds of billions of dollars in the long run, and also make our communities much, much safer.

    This bill supports programs that ensure youth have access to appropriate legal representation and programs to expand access. This bill supports programs designed to educate kids and their families about how they can go about sealing and expunging their juvenile records and to help them do that along the way.

    This bill supports programs focused on girls in the juvenile justice system. Equally important, this bill makes sure that all ethnicity is recorded so we can get a better understanding of who is in our juvenile justice system and address any disparities if we find them.

    This bill will put us on a path to ensuring kids are not detained for an offense that would not be a crime if committed as an adult, such as skipping school or running away from home. It is high time we reauthorize the JJDPA, and I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate can come together to advance this critical update to our juvenile justice laws.

    It is our responsibility to lead. I urge my colleagues to be leaders by voting for the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017. Once again, it is long, long overdue.

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