December 23, 2014 – Two senators have introduced a bill that would – some would say finally – modernize federal standards for juvenile justice, bringing 40-year-old statutes up to date with more than two decades of brain science research and satisfying the calls of judges and activists across the nation.
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What do those alternatives look like? Lawmakers and activists have been intentionally vague, stressing that they must be individualized to each locality’s unique needs. The bill only provides that their efficacy has to be backed by research and that some should stem inequalities in the detention of ethnic and racial minorities.
But a guiding example may be found in the Models for Change initiatives in Illinois and three other core states, which Judge George Timberlake, chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, said provided the framework for many of the provisions in the reauthorization bill.