Recently, both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that is closer than it’s been in over a decade to reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency & Prevention Act. This is a bill that will help to ensure the safe and fair treatment of almost 1 million kids who are in the juvenile justice system each year.
Leaders from both political parties are reaching common ground to help make redemption, rehabilitation and second chances for young people a priority. Twenty states have banned sending children to prison for life with no possibility of parole.
Most states have increased the age at which a child becomes criminally responsible, so juveniles that are under 18 are sent to a different court system than adults. In fact, so g1me jurisdictions are meeting modern science of the brain by creating policies that help young adults as old as 25.
Children’s advocates feel that young people can learn from their mistakes and become new people. In California, Jerry Brown signed four bills that can help to change the lives of kids and young adults who are incarcerated. He abolished the practice of sending juveniles to prison for life without possible parole.
He also signed a bill to help protect Miranda Rights for kids, which allows children that face interrogation with the police to have a clear understanding of the “right to remain silent.”
Governor Brown also supported new legislation that seals juvenile records so that kids who were convicted of crimes before the age of 17 can be protected as adults, and he also extended parole for youth offenders to the age of 25, which will keep younger people from long prison sentences.
The changes in the juvenile criminal justice system have a lot to do with the harsh policies that used to be in place that created a mass incarceration issue. In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, a crime wave was sensationalized by the media. It created nervousness throughout the country and caused politicians to get tough on crime in a way that caused millions of young people to be locked up. Since crime rates have dropped, many states feel it is time to revisit their take on punishing juvenile crime.