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Juvenile Enforcement and Custody-Concepts and Issues Paper

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1994
5 pages
Intended as a companion document to the Model Policy on Juvenile Enforcement and Custody developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police National Law Enforcement Policy Center (See NCJ-231331), this paper provides essential background material and supporting documentation for understanding the legal foundation and rationale for the model policy's guidelines.
The paper first reviews the history of how the American justice system has attempted to distinguish between procedures for processing juveniles and adults based on age-related maturity, emotional needs, and moral development. Attention is given to the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974, which established the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) within the U.S. Justice Department. The JJDP Act was amended in 1980 to prohibit the secure detention of juveniles in adult jails and lockups. JJDP provisions regarding the management of juveniles coming into contact with police are featured in the procedures of the model policy. Following a review of the history of policy toward juveniles contacting the justice system, the paper focuses on the use of police discretion in the course of interacting with juveniles in a law enforcement capacity. A discussion of police enforcement alternatives with juveniles addresses nine enforcement options from which officers can choose in deciding how to deal with juveniles under various circumstances. This is followed by a section on police juvenile custody decisions and procedures. The discussion pertains to two issues law enforcement agencies must address when taking juveniles into custody: eliminating secure custody for status offenders and limiting secure custody of those accused of "criminal-type" offenses. The paper concludes with a discussion of custodial concerns and strategies faced by law enforcement agencies regarding juveniles they have taken into custody.