Scanlon’s Bipartisan Justice for Juveniles Act Heads to House Floor

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, helped lead the bipartisan passage of the Justice for Juveniles Act out of the House Judiciary Committee.

America’s prisons have been home to widespread abuse and mistreatment of youth. Young people are often subjected to systemic harms such as physical and sexual violence, solitary confinement, pepper spray, and harmful restraints from other youth and facility staff.

The Justice for Juveniles Act will protect young people from abuse in prisons by exempting them from the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

Under current guidelines, the PLRA makes it difficult for abused youth to seek any remedy for their suffering by setting burdensome requirements before a lawsuit can be filed, limiting the types of relief that can be received, preventing lawsuits for emotional injuries, and creating obstacles that can impede retention of adequate legal representation.

The Justice for Juveniles Act exempts youth from the requirements of the PLRA to ensure that they are properly protected from abuse in these institutions.

“We must protect the wellbeing of all children, including those housed in corrections facilities,” said Representative Scanlon. “Not only are juveniles more likely to be subject to abuse but they are less likely to be able to remedy it because of their youth. Our bill aims to eliminate obstacles to juveniles seeking relief against abusers under the PLRA and I am thrilled that our bill is now ready to head to the floor for a vote.”

The Justice for Juveniles Act has received support from organizations on the front lines of ensuring access to justice for our youth, including Juvenile Law Center and the Campaign for Youth Justice.

“Across the country, young people who are incarcerated face physical abuse, sexual abuse, solitary confinement, pepper spray, and restraints,” said Jessica Feierman, Senior Managing Director of Juvenile Law Center. “This bill will provide important protections by increasing their access to the courts.”

A copy of the bill can be found here link.

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.