Justice Department May Not Publish New Rules of JJDPA Compliance

On its way out the door in January, the Obama administration finalized a slate of new rules governing state compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which was passed in 1974 and has been without a reauthorization for about 15 years now.

Per an executive order signed by President Trump shortly after the inauguration, the rule was subject to an immediate delay of 60 days. Since the effective date of the rules was in the middle of February, that delay lasted until April.

So what’s happening? Youth Services Insider inquired as to where Justice stood on the rules. What we found out is that the rules have moved from a known delay time to an undetermined delay time.

From Jim Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:

“On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, published a partial final rule to amend portions of the Formula Grant Program regulation to reflect changes in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) policy. The partial rule is currently under review by the Department of Justice.”

Goodwin’s reference to a “partial final rule” is correct, because the previous administration decided to punt rule making on the law’s Disproportionate Minority Contact requirements. But changes to compliance standards for the rest of JJDPA were finalized in the rule.

Goodwin declined to amplify his statement when we asked, but as YSI sees it, there’s three outcomes here. OJJDP can finalize the rules, tweak them, or just leave the rules on the shelf and never speak of it again.

Among the changes made in the rules that are under review:

  • A shift in the way that the agency will gauge state fidelity to the four core standards of the JJDPA. The Obama administration’s initial proposal on this count would have put almost every state out of compliance on at least one measure, and this was a compromise between that and the existing, somewhat toothless rule.
  • States would be responsible for monitoring 100 percent of their juvenile facilities each year. The final rules included a slight easement in that 15 percent of that monitoring could be “extrapolated.”
  • Established that, with a few significant exceptions, a youth was considered to be detained in any circumstance that they didn’t feel free to walk away from.
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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.