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Justice for Juveniles Act

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5053, the Justice for Juveniles Act. This bill eliminates some of the obstacles for juvenile prisoners seeking relief from our correctional facilities in Federal court.

Juvenile offenders often lack the knowledge to pursue and exhaust all the complex administrative rules and grievance procedures in our correctional facilities. H.R. 5053 will provide juvenile offenders quicker access to courts when they feel they are being abused or mistreated.

President Trump has been a leader on criminal justice reform. He signed into law the bipartisan First Step Act in December 2018. The President has also commuted the lengthy prison sentences of several nonviolent offenders and, more recently, pardoned Alice Johnson, who served 22 years of a life sentence for nonviolent drug trafficking.

This bill is another important step in criminal justice reform. I was honored to be the Republican lead on this bill. It was a pleasure to work with Ms. Scanlon from Pennsylvania, the bill's primary sponsor.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ARMSTRONG. Mr. Speaker, this bill is a good piece of bipartisan legislation.

I agree with Ms. Scanlon; it is an important first step. But I also think it is important to recognize that, when we do place juvenile offenders in the adult criminal justice system, we are doing some things in a different way, and they have unique challenges that they face in those systems.

This is neither the time, necessarily, nor the place for the larger debate, but I think the least we can do is exhaust some of those administrative remedies, given what we know.

I was proud to be the Republican colead on this bill, and I look forward to its passage.

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