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Responding to the Pandemic: PbS Issue Brief 3: Fewer Youths in Custody, June 2021

NCJ Number
Kim Godfrey Lovett
Date Published
June 2021
2 pages

This report from the Performance-based Standards (PbS) Program - which collects data on criminal justice facility operations, conditions, services, and quality of life – presents data related to the COVID-19 pandemic as of June 2021 in 148 juvenile correctional facilities across the United States.


One of the immediate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by juvenile justice agencies was to reduce the number of youths in closed, congregate care facilities; however, not all agencies have the authority to decide when a committed youth is released from a facility. There were coordinated efforts among all juvenile justice partners – courts, community supervision, and attorneys – to reduce the number of youths in custody compared to pre-pandemic levels. The average daily population in correctional facilities increased slightly in April 2020, but then continued to decline marginally from 41 in October 2020 to 40 youth in April 2021, sustaining the downward trend from about 45 in October 2019 and an average of 63 youths in October 2015. Policy changes for admission, transfers, and releasing youth may have contributed to fewer youths in custody. As reported earlier, the first PbS data published from the April 2021 data collection on COVID-10 testing in juvenile facilities indicated 4 percent of youths tested were positive for the virus, and 7 percent of staff tested were positive. 2 figures