Marion Mattingly, who helped develop congressional support for the first federal policy on juvenile justice, passed away on Dec. 31 at the age of 92.
Mattingly is widely credited with bringing along Republican support for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act — often referred to as JJDPA — which established a Justice Department agency focused on the subject and created federal incentives for states to meet standards for the use of juvenile facilities.
Also in the 1970s, she worked with psychologist and author A.L. Carlisle to form the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, still in existence today, as an organization to support state advisory groups connected with the new federal law. More recently, Mattingly had regularly penned the Word from Washington column in each issue of the trade newsletter Juvenile Justice Update.
“Marion was a huge part of our field and contributed so much. She leaves behind a lasting legacy, and I will very much miss her passion, her honesty, and her commitment to doing right by our most vulnerable young people,” said coalition Executive Director Naomi Smoot Evans, in a statement announcing Mattingly’s passing.
The JJDPA became law in 1974, a legislative push led by Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.). Mattingly was particularly influential in drawing the support of influential Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.) and several other Republican lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While programs and priorities under the law have grown with each reauthorization, at its core are Title II, which funds state efforts to meet national standards for safety and fairness, and Title V, which seeds local efforts to prevent delinquency.
The law has been reauthorized several times since, including in late 2018, when the law was updated to include more scrutiny of states that use detention to punish status offenders, and a greater financial emphasis on community-driven violence prevention plans.
Mattingly was also a board member with Strategies for Youth, a national nonprofit that trains law enforcement on productive ways to police and engage youth.
“We will miss Marion’s storytelling about her strategic approach to lobbying, her memories of forcing officials to confront harmful conditions for youth, and her delight any time she changed a person’s mind towards greater empathy for youth involved in the juvenile justice system,” said Lisa Thurau, founder of the organization.