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On April 20-23, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) will welcome more than 400 juvenile justice practitioners and policymakers to Washington, DC for its annual conference; it will also host a Congressional briefing and Hill Day. The events are particularly timely as the Senate currently has the opportunity to pass vital bi-partisan legislation to improve the country’s juvenile justice system, with strong support from constituents across the country.
A much needed update to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), championed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), was recently considered for unanimous consent by the Senate, but was blocked by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. This essential bill would provide states much-needed federal support for improving their own juvenile justice systems and ensuring youth and community safety. During CJJ’s Hill Day on April 20th , CJJ members and allies will discuss the current state of legislation on juvenile justice issues, then visit their Members of Congress to request support for legislation and funding that can benefit their home states, with a particular focus on asking their Senators to pass the JJDPA. CJJ members and allies will also have the opportunity to join congressional staff for a briefing about the JJDPA in the House of Representatives that afternoon.
Thursday, April 21st kicks off the start of CJJ’s Annual Conference, co-hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; this year’s theme is “Redefining Leadership: Engaging Youth, Communities, and Policymakers to Achieve Better Juvenile Justice Outcomes.” Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will share the major juvenile justice reforms he brought to his state, and—along with other experts—will discuss the role of the executive branch and State Advisory Groups in improving juvenile justice in the states. The next day, conference participants will hear from young advocates on how to engage youth as not just advisors, but as leaders in juvenile justice reform efforts. Workshops on both days will provide learning opportunities on key issues in juvenile justice, including: policing, racial and ethnic disparities, girls, solitary confinement, status and school-based offenses, crossover youth, family engagement, diversion programming, child trafficking, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
CJJ will also recognize national award recipients at the conference: Robert D. Vickery, winner of the Tony Gobar Outstanding National Juvenile Justice Specialist Award; Sang Dao, winner of the National Spirit of Youth Award; and Laurie R. Garduque, winner of the A.L. Carlisle Child Advocacy Award. On Sunday, April 23rd, CJJ will hold its annual Council of State Advisory Groups meeting—this is the only national convening open to all state and territorial Governor-appointed bodies that are charged with monitoring and supporting their state's progress in addressing the four core protections of the JJDPA.