ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Sept. 8, 2014) — National PTA President Otha Thornton issued the following statement in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act:
“September 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), the nation’s first comprehensive law designed to prevent children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and to protect those currently in the system. Juvenile justice and delinquency prevention has long been a key public policy priority of National PTA. The anniversary of the passage of the JJDPA is an important time to reflect on the juvenile justice system in the United States and amplify the association’s efforts to advocate for improvements.
“Since the passage of the JJDPA, thousands of children and youth have been provided with family and community-based alternatives to incarceration and kept separate from adults in detention. The law also has changed the way states approach juvenile justice by establishing a federal-state partnership and providing states with resources to improve their systems if they follow the requirements to protect every child. As a result of the JJDPA, children and youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system and their families are better served.
“While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, improvements still need to be made to our nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes left in the JJDPA as well as amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses such as skipping school.
“Reauthorization of the JJDPA is long overdue. National PTA believes bipartisan legislative action is critical to enhance protections for children and youth, and the association urges Congress to take swift action to reauthorize the law to improve the juvenile justice system in the United States.
“National PTA has long advocated for policies that would protect the rights of children and youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Beginning in 1899, PTA was one of the first associations to encourage federal and state lawmakers to create a safe and rehabilitative justice system for children by establishing separate courts and probation systems from those serving adults. Today, National PTA continues to support programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth currently in the system with services to help them become productive members of society. These programs promote public safety and their success requires adequate federal investment.
“As has been a priority for more than one hundred years, National PTA remains deeply committed to working with the Congress to advocate for safe and supportive juvenile justice systems nationwide that help every child reach his or her full potential.”
View National PTA’s position statement on juvenile justice. Visit National PTA’s One Voice blog to learn more about the association’s efforts over the years to educate families and communities on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and advocate for improvements to the system.
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.