U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Historic Cases in Youth Justice

©WestockProductions/shutterstock.com (see reuse policy).
Historic Cases in Youth Justice
© iStock.com (see reuse policy).

OJJDP's vision statement describes the commitment to building "a nation where all children are free from crime and violence" and where youth contact with the justice system is "rare, fair, and beneficial." Youth contact with the justice system is neither fair nor beneficial if that system fails to treat them as the children they are.

Scientific research shows that most brains are not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-20s, and that youth are prone to impulsive, emotional, and risk-taking behaviors. Research also shows that young, developing brains are capable of change, and that most youth age out of delinquent behavior naturally as they mature.  

OJJDP details milestones in juvenile justice reform—from the establishment of the first juvenile court in the United States to landmark court cases throughout history.  

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) (Pub. L. No. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. § 5601 et seq.) milestones:

  • September 7, 1974 - JJDPA signed into law
  • 1980 - Jail Removal added to JJDPA
  • 1988, 2002 and 2018 - JJDPA reauthorized
  • 1992 - Disproportionate Minority Confinement (DMC) added to the JJDPA
  • 2002 - Broadened scope of the DMC core requirement from "disproportionate minority confinement" to "disproportionate minority contact" 

 View Timeline: Juvenile Justice Reform Through the Years:


Juvenile Courts Map

This map is a data visualization that displays the establishment of juvenile courts by year for each state. Hover over each state for more information about when each juvenile court was founded.