Justice Dept. Finalizes, Eases New Regs on JJDPA Compliance

Just days before the end of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice has finalized some new rules related to state compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, through which states receive federal formula grants in exchange for adherence to certain juvenile justice standards.

The final rules, published yesterday in the Federal Register, offer a significantly different set of new compliance standards than those it proposed in August. According to Justice, eight states would be out of compliance with the new standards; 48 states were out based on the August proposal.

The new standards on compliance will take effect in fiscal 2018, giving states time to prepare.

The rules also define a key term in JJPDA language: “detain or confine.” The final definition:

Detain or confine “means to hold, keep, or restrain a person such that he is not free to leave, or such that a reasonable person would believe that he is not free to leave, except that a juvenile held by law enforcement solely for the purpose of returning him to his parent or guardian or pending transfer to the custody of a child welfare or social service agency is not detained or confined.”

Pursuant to comments it received, Justice made clear that there were several exceptions to the rule that allow a police department to keep a child while not considering the action a “detain or confine” situation. These include:

  • Pending transfer to parents or to a child welfare agency
  • Endangered due to mental illness, homelessness or substance abuse
  • Victims of crime
  • Youths who run away, or are abandoned by parents

Justice had already issued an announcement in December that states would have to start monitoring 100 percent of the facilities covered by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. According to OJJDP, 33 states already adhere to that standard, but larger states have expressed concern about the cost and practicality of monitoring all facilities each year.

This week’s announcement somewhat modifies the original proposal and allows 15 percent of that 100 percent monitoring to be extrapolated in a “statistically valid manner.”

Final decisions on some of the proposed rules from August are being kicked to the incoming Trump administration. These include any new standards on the Disproportionate Minority Contact, procedural issues on verification of compliance monitoring, and many definitions of terms within the language of the JJDPA.

Youth Services Insider will report more once we have sifted through the final document. In the meantime:

  • Click here to read the entire finalized rule document in the Federal Register.
  • Click here for a one-pager on the new rules circulated today by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

The proposed rules in August drew dozens of comments, mostly from state agencies, and many of them voiced frustration with the greater burdens in compliance at a time when JJDPA funding had dwindled to less than half of its 2010 appropriations. So the finalized rules will likely come as a source of relief to many advocates and stakeholders, as a drastic ratcheting up of compliance would have jeopardized the wide state participation rate in JJDPA. Currently only one state, Wyoming, does not participate.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1212 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.