Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968 | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968 was a federal law aimed at creating community-level responses to juvenile delinquency.

The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968 was a significant piece of legislation that aimed to address the root causes of juvenile delinquency and prevent young people from engaging in criminal behavior. The Act was passed during a time when there was growing concern about the rising rates of juvenile crime, and it provided federal funding for a range of programs designed to prevent delinquency and offer support to at-risk youth.

The Act represented a shift in the approach to juvenile justice, moving away from a purely punitive model towards one that emphasized prevention and rehabilitation. The Act recognized that many young people who engage in delinquent behavior come from disadvantaged backgrounds and face a range of social, economic, and psychological challenges. It sought to address these underlying factors by providing funding for programs that offered education, job training, counseling, and other forms of support to at-risk youth and their families.

The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968 established the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development within the Department of Justice to oversee and coordinate federal juvenile justice programs. It also established the National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which conducted research and provided training and technical assistance to states and localities in the development and implementation of effective delinquency prevention programs.

One of the key provisions of the Act was the creation of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) program, which provided federal funding for a range of delinquency prevention programs, including community-based programs, diversion programs, and programs aimed at addressing the needs of youth who are already involved in the juvenile justice system. The JJDP program also provided funding for research, evaluation, and training in the field of juvenile justice.

The Act also established a set of core requirements for state and local juvenile justice systems that received federal funding, including the requirement that juveniles be held in the least restrictive environment possible and that they not be held in adult jails or prisons. The Act also required states to provide for the separation of juveniles from adult offenders in detention facilities and to ensure that juveniles received appropriate care and treatment while in custody.

Despite the many positive aspects of the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968, it faced a number of challenges and criticisms over the years. Some critics argued that the Act did not go far enough in addressing the root causes of delinquency and that it relied too heavily on punitive measures. Others argued that the Act was underfunded and that its goals were not fully realized.

Despite these challenges, the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1968 represented an important step forward in the development of a more comprehensive and effective approach to juvenile justice. By recognizing the importance of prevention and rehabilitation and by providing federal funding for a range of programs and initiatives, the Act helped to lay the groundwork for a more holistic and compassionate approach to addressing juvenile delinquency.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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