From the desk of Jose Rosario—
Our position on the topic of juvenile justice would be that the Crime Bill has been a net loss. The Crime Bill was an overreaction to the high crime rates of the 80s and early 90s. Violent crime rates across the country have dropped dramatically since then, but to place the thanks on harsher sentencing laws and opening new prisons to house new inmates is misguided. At best, the relationship between tougher sentencing laws and crime rates are modest (http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/347736999/20-years-later-major-crime-bill-viewed-as-terrible-mistake). All it really did was create a prison-industrial-congressional complex, and our young people often get caught in it. This tough-on-crime approach that politicians on both sides of the aisle and law enforcement officials have adopted since the Crime Bill passed has unfortunately affected young people who find themselves involved in the juvenile justice system. Prosecutors pushing for more waivers and to appear tough on crime put the child in danger of facing lengthy mandatory minimum sentencing in facilities that don’t have their best interests in mind when it comes to Mental Health. These adult correctional facilities, in general, no longer care about rehabilitating their inmates but to solely punish them.
On the Crime Bill @ 20 webpage, I think they put the harsh reality into perspective: “The 1994 Crime Bill did not cause all of this. But it did play a role.”