December 17, 2009

CARDIN HAILS JUVENILE JUSTICE BILL AS A STEP TOWARD BREAKING THE CYCLE OF CRIME

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), praised the Senate Judiciary Committee today for approving The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009 (S. 678), which increases federal funding for prevention, intervention and treatment programs for youths. The legislation is critical in making meaningful improvements that expand the important core protections in the bill.   The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act provides states and localities with support and standards for improving juvenile delinquency and helping to set up safeguards for youth, families and communities.

 

"It's been proven time and again that communities and families working together can stop young people from taking a path toward criminal and delinquent behavior. We have to make investments in prevention and treatment programs now so that we can spend less on jails and incarceration programs in the future," said Senator Cardin.   "For the sake of every future victim and every family that loses a loved one to crime or drugs, we must work to stop the cycle before it begins."

 

One of the safeguards in the bill was an amendment authored by Senator Cardin last year that would protect youth considered status offenders - those who have not committed a criminal offense - and require that they are placed in alternative facilities rather than lock-ups.  Status offenses are those that apply only to children under the age of 18, such as skipping school, running away or breaking curfew. During the 1980s, a valid court order exception was added to the law but it was never intended as a provision that wholly undermines one of the core requirements of the law. 

 

"The appropriate remedy when a child runs away from home or is truant from school should not be incarceration. We need to show that we understand that these status offenders need support services, not jail," said Senator Cardin.