35th Anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

September 7, 2009, marks the 35th anniversary of the enactment of JJPDA, the nation’s most important law pertaining to the treatment of juvenile offenders and the prevention of delinquency among at-risk youth. This opportune moment for reflection also comes at a time when advocates and policymakers continue to debate principles for reauthorization of this critical law. Key issues in this discussion include:

  • How findings from the fields of developmental psychology and neuroscience ought to impact the framework for juvenile justice reform;

  • Strengthening the law’s core protections;

  • The best means of addressing the considerable mental health and substance abuse needs found among the population of justice-involved and at-risk youth; and

  • The needs of special populations, including young female offenders, youth with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

At this important milestone and time of opportunity, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) is pleased to share background materials and recommendations for federal policy, as part of its ongoing efforts related to juvenile justice. PI-GRO also wishes to recognize APA’s expert members, whose daily contributions to research and practice in the area of juvenile justice inform and make possible APA’s policy work on this vital issue.

Resources for JJDPA’s 35th Anniversary and Reauthorization

The Juvenile Court and JJDPA
Developmental and Neuroscientific Perspectives
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues
APA Press Release: APA Supports Reauthorization Of Juvenile Justice Act on Law's 35th Anniversary

Additional APA Resources on Juvenile Justice and Related Issues

Written Statement to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law (PDF, 127 KB)
APA Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Graham/Sullivan v. Florida
APA Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Roper v. Simmons
APA Resolution on Families of Incarcerated Offenders

External Resources

Act 4 Juvenile Justice
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
MacArthur Models for Change
Mental Health America
National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice
National Disability Rights Network