Grassley, Whitehouse Laud House Passage of Juvenile Justice Reform Package
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today called on the Senate to pass their bipartisan juvenile justice reform bill after the House of Representatives cleared a nearly identical bill by a vote of 382-29.
“Juvenile justice programs help local communities work with youth who encounter the criminal justice system, but these programs haven’t been revisited in over a decade. Reforms are needed to ensure that vulnerable children are able to benefit from the programs’ full potential. Senator Whitehouse and I authored bipartisan legislation to improve opportunities for our nation’s most vulnerable children and strengthen safeguards for youth who encounter the juvenile justice system. Today’s action in the House of Representatives is a positive step forward. It’s time that the Senate acts to make these important reforms a reality for at-risk children and the communities that serve them,” Grassley said.
“The children who fall into our nation’s juvenile justice system deserve an opportunity to get their lives back on track. The House reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act would increase support for state and local delinquency prevention efforts, support young people battling substance abuse or mental health conditions, and provide safer conditions for children in custody. Chairman Grassley’s and my bill makes other important improvements – like closing the loophole that allows children to be locked up for acts, such as truancy, that are not considered criminal when committed by adults – but today’s House action is a welcome step forward. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to act,” Whitehouse said.
Grassley and Whitehouse introduced bipartisan legislation last year to reform and update juvenile justice grant programs to better serve at-risk youth and those who encounter the criminal justice system. Specifically, the bill updates existing law by promoting improved transparency and accountability at the state and federal level. It also adds additional support for youth with mental illnesses and guards against fraud and mismanagement of grant funds through enhanced oversight. It also takes meaningful steps to reduce instances of youth being locked up for status offenses such as breaking curfew or skipping school.
Their legislation is supported by more than 150 organizations.