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Detaining Juveniles in Adult Jails and Lockups: An Analysis of Rights and Liabilities

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: (Summer 1988) Pages: 46-47,50
M J Dale
Date Published
3 pages
Detention of juveniles in adult jails has resulted in class action suits and awards of monetary damages. A recent Iowa case, Hendrickson vs. Griggs, gives sheriffs and jail administrators additional legal reasons to consider removing children from their facilities.
In this case, the court held that the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) could be used as the statutory basis for a class action suit seeking to remove juveniles from an adult jail. The JJDPA required States to submit annual reports showing they were in compliance with three provisions of the law: (1) deinstitutionalization of status offenders; (2) sight and sound separation of juvenile and adult incarcerates; and (3) the removal of juveniles from jails and lockups for adults by 1989. In this case, officials argued that the JJDPA was a funding statute, that relief must be sought through the Office of Juvenile Justice, and that juveniles could not sue under the law. The court allowed juveniles to sue under the law and found that the State had failed to comply with the jail removal mandate. The court stated that Congress valued removal of juveniles from adult jails over the administrative, protective, and penological advantages of placing them there and that it made little difference that these values were embodied in a funding statute rather than a nationwide prohibition. In developing a remedy, the court ordered the State to submit a plan for policy changes and a reduction in the rate of juvenile jailing that would place the State in compliance with the JJDPA by the end of 1987. 5 footnotes.