Representing Juvenile Status Offenders - A Guide from the American Bar Association

juvenile-court_juvenile-status-offenders-reportEvery year, thousands of kids (disproportionately girls and youth of color) end up in the juvenile justice system not because they've committed a crime, but because they're runaways, skipping school, or are simply hard to control. While these "status offenders" and their families need services -- and it can be tempting to detain them in order to protect them -- it's important to minimze their contact with the juvenile justice system, as research has shown that contact with the juvenile justice system can increase their risk to  recidivate.
But despite the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which has a core requirement focused on discouraging detention of juvenile status offenders, status offenders are handled differently by each state, and sometimes quite aggressively. Now, the American Bar Association (ABA) has published Representing Juvenile Status Offenders, an excellent resource for attorneys who represent them. 

From the table of contents:

  • What the JJDPA Means for Lawyers Representing Juvenile Status Offenders
  • What Social Science Tells Us about Youth Who Commit Status Offenses: Practical Advice for Attorneys
  • Accessing Intervention Services for Status Offenders and Avoiding Deeper Involvement in the Court System
  • Preadjudication Strategies for Defending Juveniles in Status Offense Proceedings
  • Postadjudication Strategies for Defending Juveniles in Status Offense Proceedings
  • Using Special Education Advocacy to Avoid or Resolve Status Offense Charges
  • How Status Offenses Intersect with Other Civil and Criminal Proceedings

Check it out and be sure to share it with others. [January 3, 2011: You can also learn more at ABA's companion website on representing juvenile status offenders.]

Updated: February 08 2018