September 14, 2015

Cárdenas Calls For Pope Francis To Continue Focusing On Juvenile Justice Reform

Cárdenas Calls For Pope Francis To Continue Focusing On Juvenile Justice Reform


(Washington, DC) - 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.

In his letter, Cárdenas called on Pope Francis to, “continue to talk about the young people in our society who are asking us for a second chance, eager to build their lives as productive and happy citizens.” He continued, “I hope that your words to our nation’s leaders will inspire them to realize they have the ability to enact a thorough reform of our juvenile justice laws that includes robust intervention prevention programs, to help these children get right with the law and escape the cycle of criminalization.”

The letter follows those written two years ago by young Valley residents who were serving time in juvenile detention facilities. Each one asked the Pope for forgiveness and a second chance. Cárdenas praised the Pope’s dedication to creating opportunities for such second chances and for his humble acts toward juvenile offenders, including washing the feet of detainees he visited in a juvenile facility.

The letter ended calling on the Pope to continue his commitment to this critical priority shared by both the Pontiff and the Valley Congressman, particularly noting the need, in the United States, to end the practice of sentencing children to life sentences without the possibility of parole, a change also being discussed by the Obama Administration.

“Growing up, I witnessed the effects of violence on our community, and I have held that image close throughout my career as a public servant, so that I never forget the people I am working for,” Cárdenas said. “That is why one of my priorities has always been reducing crime through intervention and prevention efforts and reforming our juvenile justice system.”

Read the full letter here.