February 01, 2014

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Releases Status Offense Standards

The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

Each year thousands of youth who’ve committed no crime become involved with the juvenile courts for behaviors such as running away, being truant (absent from school without an excuse), violating curfew laws, being “beyond the control of their parents” or committing other actions that are only an offense if you are under a certain age (known as “status offenses”).  In many states, youth can even be held in juvenile detention for these offenses, if they violate a court order not to commit them again.

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice has released its National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses, a set of concrete policy and practice recommendations for limiting or avoiding court involvement for youth who commit non-criminal offenses, such as truancy or running away.  The National Standards also call for an end to all secure detention for these youth.  Research shows status offense behaviors often result from unmet child and family needs, and that pushing these youth into the juvenile justice system leads to worse individual and community outcomes. 

The National Standards promote system reforms and changes in system culture, as well as the workforce needed to ensure adoption and implementation of research-supported policies, programs, and practices that effectively meet the needs of youth, their families and the community without unwarranted justice system involvement.

You can support the National Standards by doing one or more of the following:

  • Share them with your colleagues or members through social media, listservs, or in your newsletter;

  • Have your organization endorse the Standards (e.g., allowing CJJ to list them as supporting the key principles and black letter of the Standards on its website and other materials); 

  • Partner with CJJ to author or co-author a blog post, op-ed or issue brief on any issue covered by the National Standards; or

  • Share how you are using the National Standards in your work.

To endorse, support, or disseminate the Standards, contact Lisa Pilnik, CJJ Consultant, (301) 605-0560.

For other questions contact Katie Mercier, CJJ Digital and Member Communications Manager, (202) 467-0864, ext. 125. 

Next month: Watch for an article highlighting key standards and how practitioners can use them when working with court-involved youth who commit status offenses.