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Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California

Juvenile Justice & Safety

One of my main goals since first being elected to office has been to promote public safety with law enforcement collaboration for fair, smart-on-crime policies for youth opportunity and justice, through all aspects of the justice system.


Reforming Outdated Juvenile Justice System and Reducing Crime

Growing up in Pacoima, I saw the effect gangs have on our community. Gang prevention and juvenile justice reform have always been my most important priorities. I chaired an internationally-renowned advisory committee that developed the nation’s first comprehensive "Community Based Gang-Intervention Model",developed by intervention practitioners themselves.

In 2000, as a California State Assemblyman, I co-authored and passed AB 1913, the Schiff-Cárdenas Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, which has provided local communities with approximately $120 million per year, the single, largest appropriation of state funds for youth crime prevention in the history of the United States. Confirming its effectiveness, a report from the Rand Corporation indicates that statewide efforts after the passage of the Schiff-Cárdenas Act have resulted in lower law enforcement costs and a measurable positive affect on young people who participate in it. As a freshman Congressman, I tried to bring those same benefits to our nation as a whole, introducing the “Community-Based Gang Intervention Act’’ (H.R. 2669) in 2013. The law would provide funding and direction for agencies to intervene in the lives of young people who are at-risk, keeping them out of the prison system and making our communities safer.

I also want to protect the mental and physical health of the young men and women who have been incarcerated in our nation, so that eventually they can be rehabilitated and returned to become productive members of society. With that in mind, I also joined two U.S. Senators, introducing the At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act; the Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act, which was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; and the Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act. These laws address the physical health of incarcerated kids, stops our nation from being the only country in the world to put kids in solitary confinement and stops judges from being able to put kids in jail for skipping school or smoking cigarettes.


Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus

I also founded the bipartisan Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus along with U.S. Rep. David Reichert. We were joined by charter members Judge Ted Poe and Bobby Scott, to encourage the federal government, particularly Congress, to work toward smart justice reform for at-risk youth and further efforts that encourage violence prevention and youth opportunity.


Protecting Our Nation's Student-Athletes

In August, 2014, I joined U.S. Rep. Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania to announce the formation of the bipartisan Congressional Student-Athlete Protection Caucus. The Caucus was founded to both inform Congressional members about physical, academic and financial issues faced by student-athletes, and to ensure that all student-athletes participating in collegiate athletics are treated fairly and are provided with the educational promise that is at the heart of collegiate athletics.

In November 2013, I introduced the Collegiate Student Athlete Protection Act (CSAP) which also would create scholarship and concussion protections, while requiring universities to provide full medical coverage for student-athletes. Some great changes have already begun taking pace in collegiate athletics, and I look forward to finishing the job. Giving our student-athletes the same protections that any other American receives when they trade their work for compensation is the only just, fair thing to do.


More on Juvenile Justice & Safety

Jan 26, 2016 Press Release

Today, Congressman Cárdenas released the following statement, in response to President Obama’s recent announcement implementing recommendations to reduce use of solitary confinement:

Jan 26, 2016 Press Release

Hoy, el Congresista Cárdenas emitió el siguiente comunicado, respondiendo a la reciente decisión del Presidente Obama de implementar recomendaciones para reducir el uso de confinamiento en solitario:

Nov 17, 2015 Press Release
To allow tech-inspired students to create paths to follow their passion, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) joined U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) in introducing H.R. 4041, the 416d65726963612043616e20436f6465 Act of 2015, also known as the America Can Code Act.
Nov 5, 2015 Press Release
The debate over a Republican mental health bill in House Energy and Commerce Committee included a change made by U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) to ensure that if the bill becomes law, it will create a lifeline for children, suffering from mental illness, who are released from juvenile detention.
Oct 23, 2015 Press Release
As part of the President’s recognition of Youth Justice Awareness Month, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and long-time juvenile justice reform advocate, this week introduced legislation that would revolutionize the way American law enforcement deals with young people involved in the justice system, particularly those in gangs.
Oct 22, 2015 Press Release
As part of the President’s recognition of Youth Justice Awareness Month, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and long-time juvenile justice reform advocate, yesterday introduced legislation to stop the barbaric practice of putting kids in jail for offenses that would not be “crimes” if those children were adults.
Sep 14, 2015 Press Release
Today, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) sent a letter to Pope Francis, calling on him to address the importance of juvenile justice reform. Cárdenas has been a champion of justice reform for American youth since his earliest days in the California State Legislature. Cárdenas worked with now-Congressman Adam Schiff to create the Schiff-Cárdenas Crime Prevention Act, fundamentally changing the way California dealt with youth involved with the justice system.
Jul 31, 2015 Press Release
Today U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas released the following statement, after the U.S. Department of Education announced its new Second Chance Pell Pilot program to allow prisoners to apply for and receive federal Pell Grants:
Jul 28, 2015 In The News

By Michael Oleaga

U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., has called for the elimination of life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles.

The San Fernando Valley congressman introduced a Congressional Resolution, which noted more than 2,500 children have been sentenced to life in prison, but the U.S. is the only country that allows life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Jul 28, 2015 In The News

by Rep. Tony Cardenas

In the afterglow of our nation’s renewed bipartisan commitment to rethinking our justice and prison system, the U.S. remains the only country that sentences our children to life in prison without parole, effectively extinguishing their lives. In the United States, where we describe ourselves as the greatest nation in the world, this is just one of the many concerns that have remained primarily outside the spotlight with regard to children in our justice system.