The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) established in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, provides crucial support for state programs that assist communities to take a comprehensive approach to juvenile crime prevention and to address the needs of vulnerable youth and those of their families early and effectively. The JJDPA supports delinquency prevention programs to improve state and local juvenile justice systems; a juvenile planning and advisory system in all states; and operation of the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) dedicated to training, technical assistance, model program development, research and evaluation, and support of state and local efforts. Its reauthorization is currently more than seven years overdue. Since the last major reauthorization of the JJDPA nearly two decades ago, much more is known about what works and does not work to keep our communities safe and put youth on a better path.
While juvenile crime rates in the United States are at low levels and stable, youth in America - including youth charged with non-criminal misbehavior - are processed in the criminal justice system, locked-up and imprisoned at much higher rates than in other comparable nations. Youth of color are significantly over-represented at all stages of the juvenile justice system.