JJDPA is the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act. After sitting for more than a decade without authorization, it passed the House last week and now moves on to the Senate.
Originating in the Education and Workforce Committee, it’s touted as a big progressive reform. And it is — in fact, it does far more for young people who are incarcerated than this year’s federal education package, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). There are reasons to cheer for the new statute, but it still doesn’t do enough to ensure that kids who are locked up have the high-quality education experiences that they need in order to return to their communities as productive participants.
The Committee factsheet lays out the four general sections of the bill:
- provisions to ensure the continuity of young people’s education while incarcerated;
- clear guidance and directions for states and localities on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among incarcerated youth;
- better reporting of important juvenile justice metrics to the Office of Juvenile Jus
tice and Delinquency Prevention;
- and provisions to ensure accountability in the use of federal resources devoted to juvenile justice initiatives.
(Unrelated to education, it also refines and strengthens important protections for children detained in the juvenile and adult systems by clarifying a number of judicial and correctional regulations and procedures.)
That first bullet point: “provisions to ensure the continuity of young people’s education while incarcerated” is both promising and disappointing. In fact, this statute doesn’t do much more than most of us probably assumed was already a well-established minimum standard. Continue reading