Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act is the single most important piece of federal legislation affecting youth in juvenile justice systems across the country. It is the primary vehicle through which the federal government sets standards for state and local juvenile justice systems, and provides direct funding for states, research, training and technical assistance, and evaluation. Since the original enactment of the JJDPA in 1974, the periodic reauthorizations have been very contentious, as the Act's opponents have sought to weaken its protections for youth, reduce prevention resources, and encourage the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system.

CCLP Publications

  • Juvenile Justice: Lessons for a New Era [download]
    Executive Director Mark Soler and Deputy Director Dana Shoenberg have published an article that outlines how new research and experience should guide juvenile justice policy and practice reforms in several areas. Marc Schindler, Interim Director of the Washington, DC, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, co-authored the piece, which appears in Volume 16 of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy.
  • Fact Sheet: Community-Based and Home-Based Alternatives to Incarceration [download full version] [download short version]
    This fact sheet reviews the types of community-based and home-based alternatives to incarceration, their successes, and how the reauthorized JJDPA should encourage those placements.
  • Fact Sheet: Protection of Incarcerated Youth [download]
    The JJDPA currently does not address conditions and practices in juvenile facilities. This fact sheet suggests how the JJDPA can be strengthened through new provisions that bar dangerous practices and encourage states to reduce and eliminate the use of those practices.
  • Fact Sheet: Disproportionate Minority Contact [download]
    This fact sheet addresses how the DMC core requirement should be strengthgened in the reauthorized JJDPA and provides examples of jurisdictions that have achieved DMC reductions in recent years through targeted reforms.
  • Potential for Change: Public Attitudes and Policy Preferences for Juvenile Justice Systems Reform [download]
    This CCLP report contains new polling data on Americans’ attitudes about youth, race and crime, revealing strong support for juvenile justice reforms that focus on rehabilitating youthful offenders rather than locking them up in adult prisons. The public also believes that African American and poor youth receive less favorable treatment than those who are white or middle class.

  • Locking Up Kids Is Not the Answer [download]
    Executive Director Mark Soler co-authored an op-ed in the Contra Costa Times, entitled Locking Up Kids Is Not the Answer, that explains why the JJDPA's treatment of status offenders makes sense for youth involved in the juvenile justice system - particularly female youth.

CCLP Presentations

  • Update: Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Reauthorization [download]
    In May 2009, CCLP Deputy Director Dana Shoenberg presented an update on the impending JJDPA reauthorization in the law's 35th year, giving an overview of the law and the potential changes with respect to disproportionate minority contact.

Other Resources

  • Act 4 JJ Campaign Statement of Principles [download]
    In order to bolster the infrastructure for and ensure the necessary focus on the JJDPA reauthorization, the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition officially launched the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign on March 9, 2007. This Statement of Principles outlines the priorities for reauthorization.
  • Rehabilitation Versus Incarceration of Juvenile Offenders: Public Preferences in Four Models for Change States [download]
    This report finds that when informed that rehabilitation is as effective as incarceration (in fact, the former is more effective), the public is willing to pay nearly 20 percent more in additional taxes annually for programs that offer
    rehabilitative services to serious juvenile offenders than for longer periods of incarceration.
  • JJDPA Fact Book [download]
    This Fact Book, written by the Act 4 JJ Campaign, is a collection of numerous background resources and fact sheets related to the JJDPA.
  • A Pivotal Moment: Sustaining the Success and Enhancing the Future of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act [download]
    The Coalition for Juvenile Justice published the results of a first-of-its kind investigation into the impact of the JJDPA in 53 states and territories nationwide. The study endorses strengthening the JJDPA in key areas, including DMC reduction.
  • 35th Anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) [link]
    The American Psychological Association marked the JJDPA’s 35th Anniversary with a website highlighting the ways that psychological research can inform the reauthorized law. The website addresses several issues, including how research from the field of developmental psychology and neuroscience should inform juvenile justice practices and best practices for handling substance abuse and mental health issues.

  • An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Juvenile Delinquency Court [link]
    In June 2010, the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) issued an assessment of juvenile indigent defense in West Virginia. The NJDC report found that juvenile proceedings fell short of the requirements outlined in West Virginia law. NJDC noted that the informality of court proceedings led to a decrease in juveniles’ due process rights, and that multiple barriers to effective representation existed, including the late appointment of counsel and a lack of placement options. The report outlines reforms to bring the state in line with best practices, as well as implementation strategies for the legislature, attorneys, and other juvenile justice stakeholders.

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