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Juvenile Justice

What We’re Seeing

  • More than 48,000 youth held in the juvenile and criminal justice systems during the pandemic are at greater risk of infection AND of experiencing additional trauma and lifelong harm because of a lack of mental health care services.
  • These youth are less healthy than their peers and suffer from a number of pre-existing conditions that may make them more likely to become seriously ill if exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Inmates live in close proximity, sharing toilets and eating spaces with poor hygiene and little ventilation. Guards, staff, and visitors are constantly churning through, carrying with them germs from the outside. 
  • Facilities are resorting to solitary confinement as a way to control, the spread of infection. The isolation of already fragile young people suffering from mental health disorders is exacerbating their conditions; a number of youth who feel unwell are not alerting facility staff – putting both themselves and others at risk. 
  • While there has been some movement to halt new detentions and remove youth from detention whenever possible, most states continue to hold them despite the fact that the vast majority are charged with minor offenses and pose no risk to themselves or their communities.

What CR is Doing

May 5, 2020

Policy suggestions for juvenile correctional systems

Putting in place proper responses and protocols to deal with the threat of COVID-19 in juvenile justice systems is critical for protecting the health of detained youth and the health of the greater community.

It is critical that juvenile justice officials take the following measures:

1. Reduce the population of detained youth

2. Establish plans, policies, and practices to prevent and mitigate an outbreak

3. Educate staff and detained youth, and provide them with needed supports

Read more for our policy recommendations

Guidance for detention facilities and staff

Resource Guide on Juvenile Justice Systems’ COVID-19 Response

April 16, 2020

Call for a Nationwide Moratorium on Juvenile Fees and Fines

We joined over 135 groups across the country and political spectrum calling for a national moratorium on juvenile fees and fines during the COVID crisis. These harmful practices push youth and families deeper into the juvenile system and poverty, and they undermine community safety. State and local governments must stop imposing fees and fines during a global pandemic and economic crisis.

View the letter and our recommendations here.

March 23, 2020

Children Cannot “Social Distance” in Jail

We launched a petition requesting that youth in jail are released and placed safely at home or in loving foster care homes.

Children’s Rights has long been a voice for the incarcerated youth. We know that many of them have not been convicted of a crime, but are locked up simply because their families cannot afford to post bail. This is injustice enough, but now they are being held in places that are likely to make them sick. And it’s getting worse. Officials are taking drastic measures to isolate them. Children who are already traumatized and suffering from toxic stress will now suffer even further psychological damage as prisons and jails ban visits by family members, educators, and other support personnel in the name of infection control.

Add your name to tell your elected officials to bring our children home.

COVID-19 Juvenile Justice News

Disclaimer: The information and materials on this web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to be treated as legal advice.