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JULY 21, 2011: Peg's Blogs on Hiatus...

As many friends and regular readers know, I've been dealing with a lot in my personal life, lately, while my workload has continued to grow. Rest assured that I'm in the best of company, and getting by with a little help from my friends. Still, I need to take a break and focus on centering myself. That means this site will be neglected even more than it has been.

Until I'm able to get a grip on blogging regularly and thoughtfully again here (or until someone else steps in to anchor the site), I encourage people to check out Carl Toersbijns' blog (he's a former Deputy Warden for the AZ Department of Corrections, and while not an abolitionist, he's a strong advocate for the prisoners with mental illness, and for broad-based prison reform in AZ). You may also want to drop in on Middle Ground Prison Reform's site for news.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reinforcing or Abolishing Children's Prisons: Reauthorizing the JJDPA

I received the following action alert in my box last night from Act For Juvenile Justice. I think the group was formed specifically to organize and lobby people to reauthorize the JJDPA.


Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Now!

Congress has just 13 days to move forward fundamental federal juvenile justice legislation that will protect our most vulnerable children. Help keep children out of adult jails, end the over-incarceration of youth of color in the justice system, and devote more resources to effective juvenile justice programs that protect our young people and keep our communities safe.

Reauthorization of this important law is nearly 4 years overdue and Congress is scheduled to adjourn on October 8, leaving just 13 days for them to act.

Children and teens already caught up in the system can't wait another day.


Urge Congress to pass a reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act this year by signing the petitions below:

· Sign the House of Representatives Petition

· Sign the Senate Petition

Help us reach our goal of over 15,000 signatures by the end of September by forwarding this Action Alert to your networks.

Learn more by visiting


It's a pretty compelling email. I think almost everyone working on reforming the face of American of juvenile justice is pretty much on board with this - all their websites are screaming for us to update and renew the JJDPA, anyway. I've been caught up in a lot of other stuff lately, though, and I have to admit that I don't know enough about what's being included in the JJDPA and what's being left out yet to argue for it (not without qualifiers, at least).

Bottom line: I want to get rid of the prisons we put children into. For all I know, this act will just ensure we depend on them for at least another generation or two.

So, do your own digging if you're in a hurry to take a stand on this thing. There's info below about the different aspects of the JJDPA. As I research it more over the next few days, I'll try and introduce different perspectives, in addition to forming and articulating my own..


From the Center for Children's Law and Policy:

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act is the single most important piece of federal legislation affecting youth in juvenile justice systems across the country. It is the primary vehicle through which the federal government sets standards for state and local juvenile justice systems, and provides direct funding for states, research, training and technical assistance, and evaluation. Since the original enactment of the JJDPA in 1974, the periodic reauthorizations have been very contentious, as the Act's opponents have sought to weaken its protections for youth, reduce prevention resources, and encourage the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system.

CCLP Publications

  • Juvenile Justice: Lessons for a New Era [download]
    Executive Director Mark Soler and Senior Staff Attorney Dana Shoenberg have published an article that outlines how new research and experience should guide juvenile justice policy and practice reforms in several areas. Marc Schindler, Interim Director of the Washington, DC, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, co-authored the piece, which appears in Volume 16 of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy.
  • Fact Sheet: Community-Based and Home-Based Alternatives to Incarceration [download full version] [download short version]
    This fact sheet reviews the types of community-based and home-based alternatives to incarceration, their successes, and how the reauthorized JJDPA should encourage those placements.
  • Fact Sheet: Protection of Incarcerated Youth [download]
    The JJDPA currently does not address conditions and practices in juvenile facilities. This fact sheet suggests how the JJDPA can be strengthened through new provisions that bar dangerous practices and encourage states to reduce and eliminate the use of those practices.
  • Fact Sheet: Disproportionate Minority Contact [download]
    This fact sheet addresses how the DMC core requirement should be strengthgened in the reauthorized JJDPA and provides examples of jurisdictions that have achieved DMC reductions in recent years through targeted reforms.
  • Potential for Change: Public Attitudes and Policy Preferences for Juvenile Justice Systems Reform [download]
    This CCLP report contains new polling data on Americans attitudes about youth, race and crime, revealing strong support for juvenile justice reforms that focus on rehabilitating youthful offenders rather than locking them up in adult prisons. The public also believes that African American and poor youth receive less favorable treatment than those who are white or middle class.

  • Locking Up Kids Is Not the Answer [download]
    Executive Director Mark Soler co-authored an op-ed in the Contra Costa Times, entitled Locking Up Kids Is Not the Answer, that explains why the JJDPA's treatment of status offenders makes sense for youth involved in the juvenile justice system - particularly female youth.

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