After years of advocacy from Rhode Island organizations including our LAYFS ministries, juvenile justice bill has passed the US Congress; awaits signature from the President

Staff and young people of LAYFS ministries Tides Family Services and Ocean Tides joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline


Pawtucket, RI – Tides Family Services had the honor of hosting a press conference to mark the passage of the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2018. On December 17, 2018, United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline joined advocates in Rhode Island and young adults who interacted with the juvenile justice system at the Tides Family Services’ Office in Pawtucket to celebrate the passing of the legislation.

“This bill reinforces advocacy efforts to ensure juvenile justice meets the highest level of care for the most vulnerable children and families entrusted to our care,” said Ms. Beth Lemme-Bixby, Chief Executive Officer for Tides Family Services. “Quality care across the entire continuum of Juvenile Justice Service and Care is now the law and will allow every young person an opportunity for success.”

“We are extremely pleased that this Federal legislation has been passed by Congress to continue to improve Juvenile Justice services throughout the country,” said Br. James Martino, FSC, President for Ocean Tides, located in Narragansett and Providence. “This legislation sets a high standard of care for all young people in the juvenile justice system, in line with the kind of care the Lasallian Association of Youth and Family Service (LAYFS) agencies have always to aspired to provide.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act

  • Clarifies that an additional purpose of the existing statute is to support a continuum of programs (including delinquency prevention, intervention, mental health and substance abuse treatment) to respond to at-risk youth or juvenile offenders.
  • Calls for greater focus on mental health and substance abuse screening, assessment, referral and treatment of juvenile offenders; and calls for the inclusion of individuals with mental health expertise on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Delinquency Prevention.
  • Encourages participating states to report additional data about the ethnicity (not just race and gender) of juveniles in confinement.
  • Calls for the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to identify evidence-based and promising practices.
  • Clarifies that grants to states should be allocated based on the most recently available census data.
  • Promotes transparency, e.g., by requiring that a state plan be posted online within 30 days of its approval, and by requiring that OJJDP annually publicize a plan outlining program goals.
  • Adds procedural safeguards to improve juvenile reentry services.
  • Offers guidance to states on how to identify and reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth who come into contact with the justice system.
  • Encourages states to share records relating to abused and neglected children.
  • Encourages greater use of community-based alternatives to youth detention, such as specialized problem-solving courts and other diversion programs.
  • Calls for the development of a uniform method of data collection to evaluate data on youth recidivism.
  • Calls for training to support juvenile judges and requires that federal training/technical assistance efforts be coordinated with state and local corrections/detention personnel.
  • Adds accountability and oversight provisions to which all grantees are subject, such as a limit on conference expenditures, restrictions on the use of grants for lobbying, and significantly more reviews and audits of state programs receiving grants.
  • Ensures that the 20% noncompliance penalties collected from states will be returned to the formula grant program or used for technical assistance—not simply reallocated to noncompliant states (Section 204).

For more on this juvenile justice bill, visit the Providence Journal website >