House Ed/Workforce Hearing on Juvenile Justice Scheduled for October 8

After years of silence on the issue of juvenile justice, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair John Kline (R-Minn.) will hold a hearing on juvenile justice.

The hearing, “Reviewing the Juvenile Justice System and How It Serves At-Risk Youth,” will be held at the Capitol Visitors Center at 10am on October 8th. It will feature four witnesses:

Tim Goldsmith, chief clinical officer at the Memphis-based Youth Villages. The organization has roots in residential care, but in the past ten years has reorganized around a model that includes community- and home-based services.

Judge Steven Teske, chief judge of the Clayton County Juvenile Court in Georgia. We can’t remember the last time there was a Capitol Hill hearing on juvenile justice that did not include Teske, who drastically reduced his county’s use of detention and law enforcement involvement in school-based offenses.

Derek Cohen, deputy director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Sloane Baxter, a youth advocate in Washington, D.C.

That’s all we know at this point. It is not a markup, so this will not directly affect the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Kline’s committee has a bill in the hopper to do that, authored by his ranking minority member Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Scott’s bill includes a scaled-down version of his PROMISE Act concept, which seeds community planning and then implementation aimed at reducing youth violence.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has marked up and passed several reauthorization bills in the past decade, but the House has been silent on the issue. Education and Workforce has traditionally had jurisdiction over JJDPA.

Kline’s predecessor, George Miller (D-Calif.), made noise about reauthorization in 2009 and 2010 but never even introduced a bill.

We’ll be very interested to take this one in. We reported in recent months that when YSI pushed his spokespeople on the subject, we could not get a straight answer on whether Kline supported reauthorization of the JJDPA. We have heard, however, that advocates have worked with the committee staff behind the scenes and that the door is somewhat open.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.