On Monday, December 17, Senator Whitehouse along with Congressman Cicilline; members of the RI Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and Family Court; local mayors, and child welfare advocates gathered at Tides Family Services in Pawtucket to celebrate the passing of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
Among other things, the latest JJDPA bill:
- Asks states that receive federal grants to meet “core requirements,” including segregation of young detainees from adults and the identification and reduction of racial disparities in juvenile detention
- Encourages authorities to be more vigilant at screening children who might have been sexually trafficked or who suffer from mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse
- Requires states to phase out the shackling of pregnant girls and support continuing education for detainees
(Excerpt from Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.)
Advocates say reauthorization will help increase funding for JJDPA and improve the treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system, largely because experts have more information on adolescent behavior now than they did 16 years ago. “This Bill validates the work that Rhode Island has been implementing,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, of Rhode Island Kids Count.
Our own Harvest Kitchen played a role in this long process. We were invited to Washington, D.C. back in 2014 to testify at a JJDPA hearing and discuss the beneficial outcomes for youth resulting from improvements made in the juvenile justice system. One of our early program graduates and long-time staff member, Osbert, was proud to represent us in DC!