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Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention Act

One of the biggest functions the Federal Government can serve with regard to American juvenile justice is the allocation of funds to the states that oversee the community-based implementation of prevention programs and the expenses involved in detaining, adjudicating and placing children after a disposition hearing. Of course, these considerations should not demean the genuine needs of states for Federal funds.

Contained within the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act is a summary of findings on the less-than-admirable state of American juvenile justice systems at the time. As of 1974, about half of all violent crimes were committed by juveniles. However, the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act did not see fit to give out millions of dollars in funds to states automatically.

As a result of amendments to the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act, there are four core conditions for states to receive regular contributions from the U.S. Government. First, the "decriminalization of status offenders" prevents children from being held in secure facilities and adult prisons for crimes for which adults cannot be found guilty. Second, the "jail removal" stipulation further protects children from all-purpose correctional facilities, stating the importance of making concerted attempts to keep children out of adult jails, barring extreme circumstances.

Third, the "sight and sound" clause disallows regular contact between child offenders and adult offenders whenever possible. Lastly, the "disproportionate minority confinement" (since renamed "disproportionate minority contact") section forces states to consider ways to combat the high percentages of committed and incarcerated minors.

We would be remiss if we failed to consider how compliance with these conditions can be reliably assessed. The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act authorized the creation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which oversees states' conformity with the Act and American juvenile justice as a whole to this day.

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