WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of bipartisan legislation he co-introduced that secures new protections for minors and improves accountability measures in the federal juvenile justice grant program.
“I applaud the Senate on passing this important bipartisan legislation to support juvenile justice and delinquency prevention because I’ve seen the direct result of that progress in North Carolina,” said Senator Tillis. “The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act is a commonsense, bipartisan compromise that will produce those outcomes on the federal level, and I urge the House of Representatives to pass this same legislation quickly so it can be signed into law.”
In 2011, as North Carolina Speaker of the House, Tillis spearheaded the passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act, sweeping criminal justice reform legislation. Since its passage, North Carolina has decreased the juvenile crime rate for the six consecutive years at a faster rate than almost any other state in the nation – with the exception of Connecticut. Tillis has been continued to lead on criminal justice reform at the federal level, and is currently working to build support and pass the First Step Act out of Congress. Earlier this week, legislation Tillis co-sponsored protecting victims of child abuse unanimously passed the Senate.
The legislation, called the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2018, takes steps to reduce the unnecessary incarceration of youth, improves safeguards for minors who encounter the justice system and strengthens services that encourage a smooth transition back into society. This bill is a bicameral compromise that blends the previous Senate and House versions. The original Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was enacted in 1974 to ensure the safety of at-risk youth who enter the juvenile justice system, and assist states with delinquency prevention programs and activities. The program has not been updated since 2002 and is long overdue to be reauthorized.
The bill improves the existing law by:
- Improving treatment for juvenile offenders with mental illness and substance abuse issues;
- Encouraging states to make efforts to identify, report and reduce racial and ethnic disparities for youth who enter the juvenile justice system;
- Supporting alternatives to incarceration, such as problem-solving courts; and
- Strengthening oversight of the federal grant program and holding states accountable for failing to meet core grant requirements to protect the safety of minors in the justice system.
This bill is expected to be taken up in the House of Representatives on suspension and quickly sent to the President for signature to become law.