September | October 2019

Message From the Administrator: 45th Anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

On September 7, 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was signed into law. This historic statute established OJJDP as the only federal agency that supports local and state efforts to deter delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system.

For 45 years, funding appropriated to OJJDP pursuant to this Act has fueled national efforts to prevent child abuse, locate missing and exploited children, combat Internet crimes against children, create effective interventions for youthful offenders, and mentor children and youth before they ever become entangled with the court system.

With over $11 billion awarded since 1974, OJJDP has funded projects to improve the practice of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officers, and corrections officials. Funding has allowed us to work with tribal communities to improve practice, and make resources available in Indian country to locate missing children and reduce delinquency and substance use among youth.

The Act also authorizes OJJDP to award Formula Grants to states to deinstitutionalize status offenders, separate youth from adults in secure facilities, remove youth from adult jails and lock ups, and address disproportionate minority contact.

Thanks to the hard work and enlightened vision of OJJDP’s many partners in the field, we have responded to the ever-changing landscape of scientific developments and insights into the behavior of youth, and how to effectively intervene in their lives.

The juvenile justice field recently experienced another major legislative milestone. In December 2018, President Trump signed into law the Juvenile Justice Reform Act. Known as the JJRA, this statute, for the first time in 16 years, reauthorizes the original Act and continues the important work of this Office.

As we celebrate the historic work of OJJDP, we know that many challenges remain, and we are eager to take them on. Progress in deterring delinquency is only possible if at-risk and system-involved kids are strengthened and empowered to live law-abiding lives. Many of these young people lack the social, emotional, and vocational skills and support the need to stay on a productive path. Their success depends not only on the dedicated work of professionals in youth-serving agencies, but also on private citizens who step up to help.

OJJDP has long supported mentoring programs because they provide young people with a caring adult who can walk beside them as they face their day-to-day challenges. If you have a heart for kids, I encourage you to consider volunteering in your community. The consistent presence of a caring adult can make all the difference in a young person’s life. It can be the difference between personal, academic, and vocational success, and a life caught up in the criminal court system.

Thank you for celebrating with us as we reflect on OJJDP’s 45-year commitment to protect children and prevent delinquency. We look forward to serving you and working with you in the years to come.