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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Reforming Outdated Juvenile Justice System and Reducing Crime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

Dec 18, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United States House of Representatives will vote on articles of impeachment. Congressman Tony Cárdenas’ (CA-29) released the following statement and video on why he is voting to impeach:

Dec 16, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United States House of Representatives passed Congressman Tony Cárdenas’ (CA-29) bipartisan bill, the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2019.  Following reports of infant deaths tied to inclined sleep products, Cárdenas introduced this legislation which prohibits the sale of sleepers with an inclined surface of greater than 10 degrees that is intended, marketed, or designed to provide sleeping accommodations for infants up to one year old.

Oct 17, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced a bicameral resolution designating October 2019 as “National Youth Justice Action Month”. This resolution aims to shine a light on the broken juvenile justice model that prioritizes incarceration over rehabilitation and support.

Jun 12, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) releases the following statement on the 3rd anniversary of the horrific Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando:

“Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people and left 53 injured, most of whom were LGBTQ Americans. I am reminded that even though marriage equality is the law of the land, bigotry and hate are still present.

Apr 12, 2019 Press Release

Today, I am introducing the Ending Debtor’s Prison for Kids Act. We need to eliminate the cruel practice of collecting fines and fees that keep children in jail and American families in debt.

Right now, across this country, young people are being held in detention centers not for crimes they committed at home or in school, but because they can’t afford the legal fees of our justice system.

Today, in America, 12-year-old children are in jail for being poor.

Apr 2, 2019 Press Release

As an elected official for over 20 years, I have made it a priority throughout my career to fix our criminal justice system so that more Americans can be set on a path to succeed. I am proud to announce that this year, my office has introduced legislation officially declaring April as Second Chance Month, and will soon release legislation aimed at reforming the broken criminal justice system in the United States.

Oct 24, 2018 Press Release

Contact: Bryan Doyle
(202) 225-6131

Below is a statement from Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) on the signing of the bipartisan At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act, an effort led by Cárdenas and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA):

Mar 18, 2016 Press Release
By allowing more schools in our communities to teach vital skills like coding, programming, designing and debugging, we can make sure our kids aren’t left unprepared for a rapidly changing economy.
Jan 26, 2016 Spanish Releases

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:

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: