By Zach Schalk
July 12, 2010 5:10 P.M. EDT
As congress slogs its way through the current session, the usual issues are grabbing the attention of our legislators and the headlines. All the while, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has languished without reauthorization for the third year. As David Chura points out, there is no excuse for this example of congressional inaction:
JJDPA is a good bill and there are lots of good people behind it. It has over 16 congressional sponsors and is endorsed by 9 international groups including Human Rights Watch; more than 90 national groups; 259 state and local organizations; and the Department of Justice.
That's the news I'd like to share with the nation's locked-up kids: indeed, people are "in your business," and because of those people, you're not alone. It might be a tough sell, though. When you're 15, sitting in a cramped, dirty, smelly cell, cut off from anyone and anything that has any meaning to you, you get mighty skeptical and feel abandoned. I just hope the 111th Congress doesn't let these kids down. It's happened far too many times in their lives already.
It’s true that congress faces a plethora of challenges that need to be addressed. But with JJDPA non-compliance on the rise, reauthorization is an easy way for congress to show the leadership needed in difficult times. The children being affected may not be old enough to vote, but they deserve the protection of the law nonetheless.