Booker, Cárdenas, Kamlager-Dove Reintroduce Bicameral Juvenile Justice Legislative Package | U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) reintroduced the bicameral Second Chance for Justice Package, bills that would reform the United States’ criminal and juvenile justice system.

Studies have proven that locking up children does not reduce crime or the rate of juvenile recidivism – it has the opposite effect. While incarcerated, children often receive with inadequate education instruction, limited access to health care, and insufficient counseling services. This puts them at greater risk of maltreatment, physical and psychological abuse, sexual assault, and suicide. Kids in the juvenile justice systems are disproportionately identified as having special needs and are disproportionately low-income, LGBTQ+, Black and Latino. Many of these children have no knowledge of their rights, no means to contact a lawyer, and lack the financial resources to afford legal fees.

“The past few decades have made one thing clear: our juvenile justice system is broken and in need of serious reform,” said Senator Booker. “Instead of equipping youth with the tools to succeed, our system too often traps young people, disproportionally Black and Brown, into never-ending cycles of debt and punishment. This not only squanders public resources but also undermines public safety. This package of bills takes a different approach by providing crucial, community-based supports to young people that have been proven to work. These bills bring our nation closer to a future where young people – regardless of their race, gender, or neighborhood – can realize their full potential, even when they have made mistakes.”

“I saw lives ruined by our broken criminal and juvenile justice system growing up in Pacoima,” said Representative Cárdenas. “Kids in my neighborhood were in a perpetual cycle of incarceration, and the system didn’t just harm them – it also took a toll on their families and still affects their children and grandchildren to this day. We all make mistakes when we’re young, but those mistakes shouldn’t determine our futures. I’m leading the Second Chance for Justice legislative package with Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove and Senator Booker because I believe our children deserve to live in a world where they can change for the better, and where their futures are not defined by a single mistake. Our bills will provide smart, meaningful solutions and close the loopholes that criminalize at-risk kids. We should be investing in education and intervention for children, not spending money on keeping them locked up.”

“It is unconscionable that our nation – the land of the free – has the highest incarceration rate for youth in the world. The need to reform our juvenile system has never been more apparent. I am glad to join Senator Booker and Congressman Cárdenas in introducing the Second Chance for Justice Package,”said Representative Kamlager-Dove. “These three important pieces of legislation will put us on a path toward a more just system by protecting juveniles’ Miranda Rights and addressing systemic issues through intervention programs for at-risk youth. Our children are our future – only if we give them a chance to thrive.”

The Second Chance for Justice Package includes three legislative bills that aim to reform the criminal and juvenile justice system by protecting children during police interrogations; supporting community-based organizations and their work to further evidence-based prevention and intervention initiatives for at-risk youth; and incentivizing states to eliminate the practice of collecting juvenile fines and fees that are harmful to children and families. The three legislative bills are:

  • The Protecting Miranda Rights for Kids Act would seek to protect children during police interactions and ensure their due process Constitutional Rights are upheld by requiring law enforcement to notify and contact parents or guardians in the event a child is arrested or detained.
  • The Community-Based Gang Intervention Act would allow the Office of Juvenile Justice and Prevention to provide funding and direction for agencies to intervene in the lives of young people who are at-risk, keeping them out of the prison system and making communities safer.
  • The Eliminating Debtor’s Prison for Kids Act would establish a grant program to provide meaningful resources for intervention programs to prevent juveniles’ initial involvement in the justice system and incentivize states to eliminate the practice of collecting juvenile fines and fees.

The Second Chance for Justice Package is endorsed by the following organizations: Juvenile Law Center, Brennan Center, Coalition for Engaged Education, Revolve Impact, The Sentencing Project, Human Rights for Kids, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Mothers of Incarcerated Sons and Daughters-MISD, Ubuntu Village, NOLA, Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, The Gault Center.

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