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Nebraska Needs the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

What is the JJDPA? 

Congress originally enacted the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in 1974, landmark legislation meant to encourage age-appropriate, community-based responses to delinquent and status behavior.  The law contains four core compliance measures that states must meet to receive federal funding for juvenile justice:

  • Deinstitutionalization of status offenders and non-offenders
  • Sight and sound separation of juveniles from adults in jails and lock-ups
  • Removal of juveniles from adult correctional facilities
  • Assessment of disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system.

States are required to keep and submit three year plans for maintaining compliance with the core requirements and improving outcomes for youth involved in the justice system.  The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention distributes Title II and block grant funding to states based on compliance.

On April 30, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the bipartisan bill S. 1169,  a long-overdue reauthorization of the JJDPA. The bill strengthens core protections for young people in the juvenile justice system and adds accountability measures to ensure state compliance with the Act.  A comprehensive list of key updates can be found here, which include:

  • Offering guidance to states on how to identify and reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth who come into contact with the justice system.
  • Calling for the development of a uniform method of data collection to evaluate data on youth recidivism.
  • Encouraging greater use of community-based alternatives to youth detention.
  • Adding accountability and oversight provisions to which all grantees are subject, such as a limit on conference expenditures, mentoring programs, and lobbying, and requires the Comptroller General to perform selected audits of grantees to ensure compliance
The reauthorization of the Act, with these enhancements, would underscore our country’s evolving understanding of juvenile misbehavior and best practices for reducing recidivism while maintaining youth and community well-being.
What does the JJDPA do for Nebraska?

In addition to guiding state efforts to grow evidence-based responses to juvenile justice, the JJDPA offers money to fund better options for youth.  Nebraska receives funding for juvenile justice initiatives through Title II of the JJPDA, Title V Delinquency Prevention grants, and the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program.  The dollar amounts received from these programs are based on a formula that involves census data and law enforcement expenditures, among other factors.  Because Nebraska is in compliance with the JJDPA’s four core requirements listed above, we receive the full amount of available funding as determined by the formula, and can use funds more flexibly.

Most of the money flows through the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.  Counties and providers apply for funding, and the Commission distributes grants accordingly.  JJDPA funding is used across the state for diversion centers, community-based alternatives to detention, mentoring and after-school programs, and data collection and evaluation, among other initiatives.

What can I do to help ensure the JJDPA continues to protect Nebraska’s youth?

Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives, as well as Senators Grassley and Whitehouse, to express your support!

 

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