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H.R. 1809 (115th): Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017

H.R. 1809 reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to better support states and local entities as they explore and implement ways to serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. The bill authorizes $1.1 billion over the 2018-2022 period for the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to operate programs to reduce juvenile justice delinquency, assist runaway and homeless youth, and locate missing children. An additional $500 million is authorized to be spent in the years after 2022. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Requires the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP) to prioritize evidence-based and promising strategies as well as use current, reliable information to focus on long-term solutions to reduce juvenile delinquency;
  • Updates the purpose, duties, and members of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. As an independent entity, the Council coordinates all federal juvenile delinquency programs and activities, and is required to review the programs and practices conducted by federal agencies relating to juvenile justice;
  • Updates the required information included in the Administrator’s annual report to Congress including the treatment of juveniles and their circumstances before and after release, and how state and local programs receiving funding are considered promising and built upon current, reliable evidence;
  • Ensures the state advisory groups that assist in the development of state plans are comprised of knowledgeable stakeholders who are active in the field of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention;
  • Requires a state plan to be updated to include identifying alternatives to detention, screening for human trafficking victims, and providing appropriate accommodations for pregnant juveniles. Additionally, state agencies are encouraged to collaborate on creating a smooth transition out of the juvenile justice system, specifically in the areas of education and reentry, family engagement, and community-based services;
  • Phases out the use of a valid court order for status offenders to ensure status offenders are able to receive services within the community and not be exposed to potentially dangerous influences in a secure confinement setting;
  • Requires the Administrator to issue an annual plan for research and evaluation to focus on areas of reentry, mental and behavioral health, and the conditions in secure confinement settings. In addition, H.R. 1809 includes areas of new research in identifying successful methods used to recruit and retain personnel in the juvenile justice system, examining the effects of involvement with the juvenile justice system, and identifying successful, cost-effective efforts to reduce recidivism. The bill also requires the Administrator to conduct a study that analyzes the barriers faced by states and Indian tribes to provide services to juveniles, provides a description of best practices, and provides an assessment of living arrangements for juveniles who cannot return home;
  • Requires the Administrator to provide technical assistance and training to help states properly administer and comply with the bill, including the issuance of best practices for legal representation of children;
  • Restructures the existing local delinquency prevention grant program to help assess and respond to unmet needs within the community. Eligible states award five-year grants to local communities for programs with an emphasis on community engagement and coordination; and
  • Requires accountability and oversight to be conducted by personnel within the Department of Justice relating to audits, state and tribal compliance, and internal controls at OJJDP.
Last updated May 22, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 23, 2017.


Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017

TITLE I--DECLARATION OF FINDINGS, PURPOSE, AND DEFINITIONS

(Sec. 101) This bill amends the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA) to revise an existing finding to specify that the increase in offenders who enter the juvenile justice system as the result of sexual abuse, exploitation, and trauma has changed the composition of violent juvenile offenders entering the juvenile justice system.

(Sec. 102) The bill revises an existing purpose area to require the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), in disseminating information on juvenile delinquency prevention programs, to promote evidence-based programs and practices.

It also adds, as a new purpose area, support for a continuum of evidence-based or promising programs that are trauma-informed, reflect the science of adolescent development, and are designed to meet the needs of at-risk youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

TITLE II--JUVENILE JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION

(Sec. 201) The bill requires the OJJDP, in developing objectives, priorities, strategies, and long-term plans, to take into account scientific knowledge regarding: (1) adolescent development and behavior, and (2) the effects of delinquency prevention programs and juvenile justice interventions on adolescents.

The OJJDP, in consultation with Indian tribes with a criminal justice function, must develop a policy to implement the provisions of this bill relating to Indian tribes.

(Sec. 202) It expands membership on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Coordinating Council) to include the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the Secretary of the Interior.

(Sec. 203) This section modifies requirements for the OJJDP's annual report on juveniles in custody. Specifically, it adds ethnicity to the list of offender characteristics and expands the categories of information that must be summarized and analyzed. It adds requirements for the annual report to describe criteria used to determine what programs qualify as evidence-based and promising programs and funding provided to Indian tribes; and to analyze and evaluate the OJJDP's internal controls and the total amount of payments recouped from grantees that violate the OJJDP's policies and procedures.

(Sec. 204) It increases from 2% to 5% the maximum amount of Formula Grant funds that may be used to provide technical assistance to states in complying with the core requirements and implementing a juvenile justice and delinquency plan.

It increases each state's minimum allocation under the population-based Formula Grant program from $325,000 to $400,000 if the title II appropriation is less than $75 million in a fiscal year. A state's relative population of individuals under 18 years of age must be based on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

The 10% maximum amount of a state's Formula Grant allocation that can be used for planning and administration includes designation of at least one individual to coordinate and certify compliance with the core requirements.

(Sec. 205) This section modifies the required components of a state's juvenile justice and delinquency plan.

A state's annual update to the three-year plan must describe how the plan is supported by and takes account of scientific knowledge regarding adolescent development and behavior and regarding the effects of prevention programs and juvenile justice interventions. A state must post its plan or amended plan on a publicly accessible website.

The bill modifies State Advisory Group membership qualifications to include representatives of public agencies that prevent or treat mental health, substance abuse, or disabilities in adolescents; volunteers who work as court-appointed legal counsel for juveniles; and individuals who represent victim or witness advocacy groups. It also increases from 24 years to 28 years the maximum age of youth members at the time of appointment.

It eliminates the requirement for an eligible Indian tribe to perform law enforcement functions.

A state's juvenile justice and delinquency plan must contain additional components, including plans to: provide alternatives to detention, reduce children in secure detention and corrections facilities, engage family members, use community-based services, promote evidence-based and trauma-informed programs and practices, and limit the use of restraints on pregnant juvenile offenders.

The bill modifies program areas under the Formula Grant program. It revises existing program areas to specify that: (1) alternatives to detention programs include programs for active or former gang members; (2) educational programs and support services include projects to prevent and reduce truancy; and (3) the scope of juveniles served by mentoring, counseling, and training programs includes juveniles whose parent or guardian is incarcerated in a tribal facility.

It adds new program areas to expand access to legal counsel, to inform juveniles of the opportunity and process for expunging juvenile records, to address the needs of at-risk girls, and to monitor compliance and provide technical assistance with the core requirements. The bill prioritizes funding for entities that meet the criteria for evidence-based or promising programs.

The bill modifies the core requirements with which a state must comply to receive a full allocation of funds under the Formula Grant program.

First, it revises the deinstitutionalization of status offenders core requirement, which prohibits the secure detention or confinement of a juvenile who commits a status offense (i.e., an offense that would not be a crime if committed by an adult). Specifically, use of the valid court order exception to securely detain or confine a juvenile status offender must comply with additional requirements, such as issuance of a court order and a seven-day maximum length of detention. The bill eliminates the use of the valid court order exception in 2020, subject to specified exceptions.

Second, it modifies the separation and jail removal core requirements to specify that sight or sound contact is the level of contact prohibited between juveniles and adults. Sight or sound contact means any physical, clear visual, or verbal contact that is not brief or inadvertent.

Third, it revises the disproportionate minority contact requirement to require a state to implement policy, practice, and system improvement strategies to identify and reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. It retains the prohibition against using numerical standards or quotas.

A state must provide for an effective (previously, adequate) system of monitoring compliance with the core requirements.

The OJJDP must annually conduct, and publish the results of, a compliance determination for each state that participates in the Formula Grant program.

(Sec. 206) The bill repeals the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Block Grant program.

(Sec. 207) This section requires (currently, authorizes) the OJJDP to annually publish a plan to identify (currently, plan and identify) the purposes and goals of funded initiatives to research and evaluate juvenile justice matters. It revises and expands the list of juvenile justice matters initiatives.

The OJJDP must study the coordination of services and treatment between the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. It must describe best practices in discharge planning and assess post-confinement living arrangements of juveniles who cannot return home.

This bill directs (currently, authorizes) the OJJDP to analyze juvenile justice statistics.

The OJJDP must, with respect to juvenile recidivism data, establish a uniform collection method, establish a common measurement system, and publish cumulative data collected by states. (Sec. 208) It requires (currently, permits) the OJJDP to provide training, technical assistance, and information dissemination. It adds requirements for the OJJDP to provide: training to states to implement the JJDPA's core requirements, current protocols and best practices for achieving monitoring compliance, and information sharing regarding evidence-based and promising programs or practices. It adds requirements for the OJJDP to provide technical assistance to state and local governments to comply with amendments to the core requirements and state plans; and to improve recruitment, selection, training, and retention of juvenile justice professionals. Finally, the OJJDP must disseminate best practices regarding legal representation of children; coordinate training and technical assistance programs for local and state juvenile detention and corrections personnel; provide training and technical assistance to relevant decision makers with respect to appropriate services and placement for youth with mental health or substance abuse needs; and provide training and technical assistance to enhance the capacity of courts, judges, and judicial personnel. (Sec. 209) It reauthorizes through FY2022 programs and activities under title II of the JJDPA, including the State Formula Grants program and the Challenge Grants program. (Sec. 210) The OJJDP must, in developing guidance and procedures, consult state and local governments. It must ensure that requests for reports, compliance reports, state plan requirements, and other documentation respect confidentiality, encourage efficiency, and reduce duplication of reporting efforts.TITLE III--INCENTIVE GRANTS FOR LOCAL DELINQUENCY PREVENTION PROGRAMS (Sec. 301) The bill revises the short title of title V of the JJDPA. (Sec. 302) It adds definitions for the following terms: at-risk, eligible entity, delinquency prevention program, local policy board, mentoring, and state entity. (Sec. 303) It eliminates the explicit requirement for the OJJDP to issue rules to carry out title V of the JJDPA. (Sec. 304) This section revises the Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs: to state that the purpose is to enable local communities to address unmet needs of at-risk or delinquent youth, including through a continuum of delinquency prevention programs; to direct the OJJDP to award grants to state entities for subgrants to eligible entities; and to limit the maximum set-aside for training and technical assistance. (Sec. 305) The bill creates a new section and moves, to that section, the statutory authority for grants for tribal delinquency prevention and response programs. Of the amount available for programs under title V of the JJDPA, 11% is reserved for tribal delinquency prevention and response program grants. (Sec. 306) The bill reauthorizes through FY2022 programs under title V of the JJDPA, including the Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Program.TITLE IV--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS (Sec. 401) The Government Accountability Office must evaluate the OJJDP's performance and audit selected grant recipients. (Sec. 402) This section amends the JJDPA to add a new title: that expresses the sense of Congress that the OJJDP must restore meaningful enforcement of, and states must ensure full compliance with, the core requirements; that subjects juvenile justice grants to accountability provisions; and that requires DOJ to identify and report on duplicative grant awards. Additionally, the bill reauthorizes through FY2022 programs and activities: (1) for missing and exploited children, under title IV of the JJDPA; and (2) for runaway and homeless youth, under title III of the JJDPA.

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