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New Legislation Aims to End Detention of Youth for Minor Offenses

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29) have introduced the Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act. This bill seeks to eliminate the detention of children for minor or “status offenses” that would not be considered criminal if committed by adults, such as truancy and curfew violations. Currently, such detentions are allowed through the “valid court order” (VCO) exception.

The proposed legislation aims to phase out and eventually prohibit the use of the VCO exception, shifting focus from incarceration to more supportive measures for affected youth. The move comes in response to the significant impact of such detentions, especially on children of color. The VCO exception, introduced in 1980, has led to the institutionalization of thousands of children annually and was notably involved in exacerbating the “Kids for Cash” scandal in Pennsylvania.

The bill is co-sponsored by Casey and Cárdenas and has received endorsements from various juvenile justice organizations, including Act4JJ and the Juvenile Law Center. The sponsors argue that the change will help divert youth from the criminal justice system, supporting them more effectively during challenging periods in their lives.


Tammy Annette Robinson 1964-2024

For the past years, Tammy helped take care of her mother. She enjoyed watching game shows and listening to contemporary Christian music.

Robert William Gordon 1947-2024

Born August 18, 1947, a son of the late Merrill R. and Goldie E. Kotzmoyer Gordon, Bob liked to hunt and fish, and loved spending time with his family.

Janice Mae Keller 1938-2024

Janice always enjoyed shopping trips with her children and always used that opportunity to stop at her favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.

Ethel R. Smith 1935-2024

Ethel was a very loving and caring woman. She will always be remembered and cherished as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.

Sharon M. Matthews 1951-2024

Sharon enjoyed game shows on TV, mostly Wheel of Fortune. She also liked watching the Food Network and talk about what they made.

Ralph V. Foltz 1928-2024

Ralph enjoyed hunting, telling stories, and traveling around the United States on bus trips, alongside his wife Lois.

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