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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA)

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) and David Trone (MD-6) introduced a resolution designating October 2020 as “National Youth Justice Action Month”. This resolution aims to shine a light on the broken juvenile justice model that prioritizes incarceration over rehabilitation and support. 

“For too long, we have relied on an antiquated juvenile justice model that prioritizes wasteful incarceration over efficient, effective rehabilitation,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “Every year, 76,000 youth are tried and sentenced in the United States. Our country incarcerates more young people than any other developed nation. My resolution aims to shine a light on the systemic problems in our juvenile justice system that keeps young Americans in a perpetual cycle of incarceration. American children belong in schools, not in prisons, and everyone deserves a second chance.” 

“We have a criminal justice system that is anything but just, especially when it comes to our country’s youth,” said Congressman Trone. “During National Youth Justice Month, we recognize the systemic inequities that prevent justice-impacted youth from reaching their potential and reaffirm our commitment to creating a justice system that provides second chances and opportunity for all.” 

“The Campaign for Youth Justice applauds Representatives Tony Cardenas (CA) and David Trone (MD) for recognizing October as Youth Justice Action Month and calling for children to be treated as children, and not automatically sent to the adult criminal justice system,” said Marcy Mistrett from the Campaign for Youth Justice. “After 15 years of running a national campaign, we have seen 40 states and DC change more than 100 laws making it harder to treat children as adults–these reforms mean 150k youth a year are now treated as children, while youth crime continues to fall to its lowest rate in nearly 5 decades.” 

The United States has the highest youth incarceration rates of any developed nation. Each year, 76,000 of America’s youths are tried or sentenced as adults – most of whom are prosecuted for nonviolent offenses. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote, yet in many states, children as young a seven can be tried as adults. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, prosecuting youth in adult courts increases crime – on average, they are three percent more likely to commit future crimes than youth detained in the juvenile system.  

Cárdenas is the founder and chairman of the Youth Justice Caucus working to support at-risk youth and fix the major problems in the United States juvenile justice system.