Justice Department Backs JJDPA Reauthorization

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Note: This story was updated on April 19

The Justice Department has notified the Senate Judiciary Committee that it “strongly supports” the Senate’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009. The letter, Justice’s first public statement on the legislation, was sent less than a week before the House Education and Labor Committee is to hold its initial hearing on reauthorization.

The Senate passed its version of the reauthorization in January and it includes a phased elimination of the Valid Court Order provision, which now permits detention of youths for status offenses, and increases funding authorizations for several of the juvenile justice spending lines.

The letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was signed by Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and dated April 15. It states that the Justice Department also favors strengthening some portions of the bill, specifically those that “enhance the bill’s effectiveness and the ability of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to implement its provisions.”  Justice also wants to address “concerns regarding Title V (the Precaution Act.”

"This reauthorization bill pushes forward new ways to help children move out of the criminal justice system, return to school, and become responsible, hard-working members of our communities," Leahy said in a statement issued today on the administration's support of the bill. "I know that Attorney General Holder shares these priorities, and I look forward to working with him to see this important piece of legislation."

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Ill.) will hold an April 21 hearing to explore “how reforming the juvenile justice system can help increase public safety and protect children’s well-being.”

To read the full Justice Department letter click here