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Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus

Why are we here?

The Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus was founded by U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas and David Reichert, who 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. Most importantly, the Caucus encourages evidence-based prevention and intervention initiatives for at-risk youth, understanding that the only effective solutions to this national problem are solutions that are systematically proven to work.

Working with youth to cut down on crime and encourage our next generation is rapidly become a popular and important topic. Too many states are seeing justice and prison budgets spiral out of control. With bipartisan reform happening in deep-red states like Texas and Georgia, the Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus will shine light on cost effective ways to create safer schools and communities, as well as ensuring we give our kids the opportunity to succeed. 


We can't arrest our way out of a problem.

Currently, the United States jails more than 25 percent of the world's incarcerated criminals. 2,000,000 of these are children. 95 percent of kids who are in jail did not commit violent crimes. They are the result of a justice system that values punishment over rehabilitation and education. While there is a massive societal issue with troubled, underserved youth, America has tried to arrest our way out of the problem.

The Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus is committed to answering some key questions:

 - Why do we put kids in jail?
 - Does our justice system address the fundamental differences between kids and adults?
 - Is the way we treat children the best possible way to create tomorrow's society and tomorrow's workforce?
 - What happens to our children once they enter the justice system?
 - Are there ways to stop crimes before they are committed?
 - Once a child enters the justice system, are there ways to keep them from committing more crimes, and to bring them back to a more accepted development track?
 - How can we change America to discourage the "loop of crime" that so many of our kids are getting lost in?
 - How do we make schools a place of learning, not the beginning of a "school to prison pipeline"?


Working across the aisle to make a difference

In the coming months, the Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus is committed to:

  • Establishing bipartisan support for youth violence prevention and crime reduction initiatives;
  • Helping to lead the dialogue with  youth advocates and ensure that they are more in touch with members of Congress;
  • Creating and educating a group of Congresspeople who support prevention and intervention initiatives, including hosting briefings, sending out letters educating members about pending legislation, advocating for adequate federal funding for COPS and the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention;
  • Raising the profile of these issues through Membership outreach, briefings and events;
  • Putting a spotlight on innovation, diversion and prevention-oriented efforts around the nation and engage local leaders in these issues through listening sessions in key parts of the country;
  • Coordinating and co-hosting events with other Caucuses.



Rep. Reichert began his public service career in the United States Air Force Reserve. He joined the King County Sheriff’s Office in 1972 and is recognized for his role as the lead detective on the Green RiverTask Force and bringing to justice one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history. Reichert, a two-time Medal of Valor recipient, was elected to the position of King County Sheriff in 1997. In 2004, he was honored as “Sheriff of the Year” by the National Sheriffs’ Association for his efforts to reduce crime and advocate for victims of domestic violence. He is recognized as a pioneer in the fight against Meth for establishing Meth Action Teams throughout the state that to this day work to combat the scourge of Meth and other drugs in our communities. In late 2004, Reichert was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and became only the 6th Freshman Member of Congress in U.S. history to chair a House subcommittee.

Rep. Cárdenas is a national expert in juvenile justice reform with a proven track record of enacting unprecedented legislation for over 17 years. As a legislator in the California State Assembly, including his former role as Chairman of the state’s powerful Budget Committee, and as a former Los Angeles City Councilmember, Tony Cárdenas has successfully worked on effective youth development and juvenile justice policy and legislation. Cárdenas also introduced HR 2669, the Community-Based Gang Intervention Act, to provide a nationwide approach to reducing youth violence and promote public safety through evidence-based community development that targets at-risk youth and their families. In 2000, Cárdenas, then a California State Assemblyman, 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.  This bill was designed to counterbalance rising incarceration costs and has provided over a billion dollars for youth development services and programming helping to drastically reduce juvenile crime throughout the state of California.



Congressional Research Service Report on the history of Juvenile Justice legislation and current legislative issues.

A letter from Rep. Cardenas to President Obama, discussing the importance of the President's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative.

MacArthur Foundation Juvenile Justice website

Models for Change, an organization providing research-based tools and techniques to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally-appropriate.

The Hamilton Project on Crime and Incarceration Policies (at Brookings Institution):



Washington Post: How the federal government could get a 270x return on a prison reform investment

Al Jazeera: Sentenced young: The story of life without parole for juvenile offenders

LA Times Editorial: Do away with doing time for 'minor' crimes

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: Experts: Brain Development Should Play Bigger Role in Determining Treatment of Juvenile Offenders

Youth Today: White Paper: Need to Reform Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Youth

National Journal: The U.S. Sends 2 Million Kids to Prison Every Year. Congress Is Trying to Change That.