Congressman Smith Votes to Support Youth Opportunity and Improvements to Our Juvenile Justice System

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after voting for the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act, bipartisan legislation passed by the House of Representatives today:

September 22, 2016

“Today, I voted in support of H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016. Led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Ranking Member Bobby Scott of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, this legislation reauthorizes and strengthens the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to help state and local leaders better educate and rehabilitate at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. These long-overdue reforms provide direction and support for necessary juvenile justice system improvements.

“I applaud Ranking Member Scott for his leadership on this critical issue confronting young people across the United States. Rep. Scott’s call for reforms that are ‘smart,’ not ‘tough,’ on juvenile crime will provide the building blocks for a brighter future for all of our youths. Past reforms of our justice system intended to keep our communities safer have resulted in disproportionately high incarceration rates among youth of color, split families apart and helped to perpetuate cycles of poverty. We must do more to invest in the future of our nation, and this bipartisan legislation takes a meaningful step towards truly reforming our juvenile justice system.

“Specifically, H.R. 5963 includes provisions to ensure the continuity of young people’s education while incarcerated, provides clear guidance and directions for state and local governments on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among incarcerated youth, and extends protections for children detained in the juvenile and adult justice systems. The bill amends four core mandates of the JJDPA by instituting evidence-based prevention and intervention programs specifically designed to reduce juvenile delinquency. 

“Comprehensive criminal justice reform is long overdue, and I continue to call for specific improvements to our fundamentally flawed system to ensure that all of our children grow up in a more just society. By passing the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016, we are giving at-risk youth a second chance, and providing all children the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success. The education, safety and prevention reforms this bill creates are a critical step in ending the school-to prison-pipeline. With bipartisan commitment to expanding opportunities, we can continue to work towards a justice system that is truly fair and effective.”