On December 13, 2018, National Crittenton released the following statement in response to Congress passing the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018:

Today Congress passed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, the first reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 since 2002.

For more than four decades, the JJDPA has provided critical protections for young people involved in the juvenile justice system, including the core requirements to address racial and ethnic disparities and the deinstitutionalization of status offenses. This reauthorization also requires states to create plans to eliminate the shackling of detained or incarcerated pregnant youth.

Girls disproportionately end up in residential facilities due to status offenses and technical violations. Girls make up 15% of all youth in residential facilities, but are 38% of all youth in residential facilities due to a status offense, and 20% of all youth in residential facilities due to a technical violation.

Unfortunately the legislation still includes the Valid Court Order exemption, allowing youth to continue to be incarcerated for nonviolent status offenses. This loophole is antithetical to the core requirements of the JJDPA, harmful for young people, and must be eliminated in future legislation.

The reauthorization reaffirms federal support for the ongoing work by states and local jurisdictions to address the overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system. This is welcome news for states that have expressed concern about changed reporting requirements by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention under Administrator Caren Harp.

We urge President Trump to sign this critical piece of legislation into law.


National Crittenton catalyzes social and systems change for girls and young women impacted by chronic adversity, violence, and injustice. National Crittenton is the umbrella for the 26 members of the Crittenton family of agencies providing direct services in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Together we work to provide support, advocacy and opportunities for girls, young women and their families at the national level and in local communities across the country.