This Fact Sheet discusses the nationwide crisis in custodial conditions for juvenile status offenders (youth with problem behaviors that would not be considered crimes for adults) that occasioned the passage of the Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDP), as amended, and mandates of the JJDP are explained.
In 1966, at the request of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) surveyed State and local correctional agencies and institutions across the Nation regarding the detention of juvenile status offenders. The survey documented the extensive use of detention facilities to house juveniles accused of non-criminal conduct. In 1974, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals concluded that at least 50 percent of detention populations were status offenders who had committed no crime. In addition, they were often held under deplorable conditions with adult offenders. The consequences included a high suicide rate among these juveniles and the fostering of their criminal behavior as adults. In addressing this circumstance, the JJDP required the deinstitutionalization of status offenders and the separation of juvenile and adult offenders in institutional settings. In 1980, the JJDP was amended to require the removal of juveniles from adult jails and lockups. In 1988 and 1992, the reauthorization of the JJDP included provisions that required States to gather and analyze data on the disproportionately high number of minority juveniles arrested and confined in secure detention and correctional facilities and develop an appropriate response to address this issue.
Date Published: January 1, 1995
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