Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
We say it over and over again, “kids win when their leaders prioritize them.” And that couldn’t be truer as Congress reauthorized the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) last week for the first time in over a decade.
We applaud Leader Mitch McConnell for prioritizing what works for Kentucky kids and communities by moving this important piece of legislation in the Senate. We thank Senator Rand Paul for supporting JJDPA reauthorization and for his ongoing work for smarter, safer justice policies. We also appreciate Kentucky’s House delegation for their support of this measure.
The JJDPA reauthorization supports state reform efforts to be smarter in how we respond to children who get in trouble. It helps ensure youth justice systems work more effectively – both for youth and for public safety – because youth need to be held accountable in effective ways that get them on track to become successful adults. And JJDPA supports state flexibility to connect youth with the resources, supports, and skills they need to do just that.
JJDPA improves support for prevention efforts to keep youth from entering the maze of the justice system, which can be easy to enter but has too few opportunities to exit. It promotes interventions that work to improve community safety by ensuring we right-size our responses when youth get in trouble and create a path to opportunity for every child.
Kentucky has already begun implementing more effective responses than locking kids up, and JJDPA reinforces national leaders’ commitment to ensuring that continues. We as a commonwealth now have the opportunity to build on recent strides in youth justice reforms and do what works best for kids and communities.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.