This week, the House quietly passed the unpopular Juvenile Crime Bill, under which states will try all juvenile offenders over the age of 15 as adults and will adopt a system of mandatory sentencing. The bill offers $500 million a year in grants to states that adopt these and other measures, such as the jailing of children as young as 14 with adult offenders, while making no provision for youth intervention and crime prevention. The vote took place on a day when several states were conducting primary elections, and many Democrats were absent from the House floor. Aware that the bill in its present form would never pass in the Senate, House Republicans sent it directly to conference, and avoided a debate in the Senate. Opponents of the Bill include a far-reaching coalition from children’s advocacy groups to gun control groups. They say that the legislation will do nothing to reduce juvenile crime and will expose juveniles to brutal beatings and sexual assaults in adult jails and prisons.
- Vincent Schiraldi, from the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, a group that opposes passage of the bill.
- Kim Wade, from the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC