5 Essential Reasons to Keep Kids Out of Adult Jails

Psychology Benefits Society

Child's hands holding prison bars

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Federal law protects children in the juvenile justice system from being held in adult jails.  But did you know that, on a typical day in America, over 7,500 children are locked up in adult jails?

That’s because federal protections to keep kids out of adult jails and lock-ups don’t apply to children charged as adults.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which was first passed in 1974 and most recently reauthorized in 2002, provides grants to States for juvenile crime prevention and intervention programs.  To be eligible for these funds, States must comply with four “core protections” for youth in the justice system, including jail removal and sight and sound separation to protect children from contact with adult inmates.  But because of a loophole in the law, children charged in the adult criminal system are excluded

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