Reform Through Local Laws and Ordinances
As part of a comprehensive strategy for achieving DSO, States may use the legislature to create or change laws. For example, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974 was passed to make sweeping changes in the way States handle juvenile offenders, status offenders, and nonoffenders. On the State and local levels, policymakers can pass curfew ordinances and parent accountability laws, and enforce alcohol laws, to address issues concerning status offenders. The focus should be on laws and strategies that increase compliance and prevent detention and bootstrapping.
The effect of laws and ordinances can vary widely, depending to a large degree on how State and local systems legally define, and consequently handle, status offenders. The approaches that States have used since the passage of the JJDPA to define status offenders can be organized into three broad categories:
§ Status offenders as delinquents
§ Status offenders as dependents who have been neglected/abused
§ Status offenders as a separate legislative category
How a status offender or status offense is defined under the law can affect the treatment of and availability of services to a particular youth in the juvenile justice system.
Relevant DSO Laws
States and jurisdictions vary greatly in their approaches to system change. They define status offenses differently and use different approaches to prevent status offenses and handle status offenders, including the use and enforcement of alcohol/liquor laws, parental accountability laws, and curfew laws. For more information, see Literature Review: Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders--Legal Definitions and Legislative Approaches.
OJJDP Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders
Best Practices Database
The OJJDP Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders Best Practices Database was created and developed by
Development Services Group
under Cooperative Agreement #2008-JF-FX-0072.