ALEC Signs on To Support Alabama’s Juvenile Justice Task Force Recommendations
On Thursday, January 25, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) along with eight other coalition partners signed on to a letter in support of the recommendations recently finalized and released by the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force. This task force initiated by the state of Alabama and the recommendations made are a great step forward improving the state’s juvenile justice system to make it both cost-effective and productive, while simultaneously improving public safety.
At the end of December, the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force presented a slate of policy recommendations to state political leaders that centered around juvenile justice. A bipartisan group of 20 stakeholders met multiple times to examine data related to the criminal justice system in Alabama and data from other states, such as neighboring Georgia, that have made significant restructurings to their juvenile justice systems in recent years. In conclusion, the task force, after six months of research and deliberation, made the following recommendations to help better serve and keep safe the citizens of Alabama:
- Keep juveniles who commit lower-level offenses from unnecessary involvement in the justice system through early interventions and swift, consistent responses.
- Protect public safety and better allocate taxpayer dollars by centering system resources on youth who pose risks to public safety; and
- Improve public safety outcomes through increased system accountability and reinvestment into evidence-based programs in localities and communities.
The ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force and its members have focused on juvenile justice initiatives in an effort to increase public safety, improve lives, and reduce the expenditure of taxpayers’ money. Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction and thus reducing the rate of juvenile incarceration, has seen great success in the states, with 45 out of 50 passing legislation to treat 17-year-olds as juveniles. The ALEC model Resolution to Treat 17-Year-Olds as Juveniles has served as the basis for policy changes in many states. In January 2015, the task force also adopted the Juvenile Justice Act which encourages states to find cost-effective, outcome-driven juvenile justice programs to reduce recidivism and increase government performance.
While addressing juvenile justice issues can be a daunting task, it can greatly improve lives and increase public safety. Alabama is moving in the right direction on juvenile justice and the legislature will hopefully consider legislation that reflects the recommendations made by the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force.