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Did You Know? We Have Made Progress Towards a More Fair and Equitable Juvenile Justice System

JUVJUST - Looking Back, Moving Forward

On June 16, 1944, George Stinney Jr., a 14-year-old African American boy, was falsely accused, convicted, and subsequently executed for murdering two white girls. He was denied due process and convicted by an all-white jury after only 10 minutes of deliberation. Evidence introduced later proved his innocence. In December 2014, a South Carolina court ruled that he had not received a fair trial and was wrongfully executed.

The George Stinney case highlights the appalling legacy of racial inequities and serves as a stark reminder of the lingering injustices that youth of color continue to face in the juvenile justice system.

Today, we have seen significant declines in detention and commitment rates for youth of color.  Despite progress, research shows that Black youth are 2.1 times more likely to be arrested than white youth for similar offenses and processed deeper into the juvenile justice system, including placement in adult jails and prisons.

OJJDP is committed to creating a more fair and equitable juvenile justice system. The Office is working with states to reduce disparities in the system as required by the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. To that end, OJJDP awarded $1.5 million to establish the Center for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice, launched in May 2024. The Center provides training, technical assistance, and resources for states to promote equity and reduce disparities faced by youth of color involved in the justice system.

In addition, OJJDP continues to support training, technical assistance, and grants to improve youth defense and promotes guidance to jurisdictions that youth in the juvenile justice system should be presumed indigent and unable to pay fines and fees. These efforts help to protect the constitutional rights of young people to counsel and ensure due process protections.


Date Published: June 28, 2024