Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP): History, Role & Purpose

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  • 0:01 What is OJJDP?
  • 2:16 Roles of OJJDP
  • 3:48 OJJDP Programs
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley has a JD degree and is an attorney. She has extensive experience as a prosecutor and legal writer, and she has taught and written various law courses.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP, is a justice program that focuses on preventing juvenile delinquency and victimization. This lesson explains the roles and history of OJJDP.

What Is OJJDP?

Did you know that, between 1975 and 2009, the school dropout rate for juveniles in low income families was more than six times the rate for juveniles in high income families? And did you know that, according to one study, allowing just one juvenile to leave school for a life of crime and drug abuse costs society approximately $2 million per year? So you would think our nation would want to keep kids in school and away from crime. And you'd be right!

The United States Department of Justice oversees many different justice agencies. One of these is the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP. This federal office helps states and communities develop and use programs that are designed to benefit juveniles. It includes programs designed to prevent juveniles from committing crimes, and also programs designed to prevent juveniles from being the victims of crime.

OJJDP was created in 1974 in response to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, or JJDP. This federal law provided funds to states that follow certain federal protections for juveniles. The protections are meant to ensure the proper care and treatment of juveniles in the justice system.

For example, the Act requires juvenile offenders to be jailed in a juvenile facility. In those limited circumstances when a juvenile is jailed in an adult facility, the Act requires juveniles to be kept separate from adults. This is an important issue, as statistics show there were nearly 62,000 juvenile offenders held in facilities on any given day of 2011. Note that the JJDP has been amended several times, most recently in 2002.

Roles of OJJDP

The OJJDP is probably best summed up by its mission statement. It is:

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention envisions a nation where our children are healthy, educated, and free from violence. If they come into contact with the juvenile justice system, the contact should be rare, fair, and beneficial to them.

In working toward its mission, OJJDP serves many different roles. Keep in mind that OJJDP addresses everything from delinquency, which is illegal behavior by a person under the age of 18, to truancy, which is the unauthorized or illegal absence from school. These important roles include:

  • Providing national guidance and resources to prevent and respond to criminal behavior by juveniles
  • Providing national guidance and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile victimization
  • Supporting states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement prevention and intervention programs for juveniles
  • Improving the juvenile justice system in order to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and provide treatment and rehabilitative services for juveniles

OJJDP Programs

It takes a lot of work to perform these roles. OJJDP sponsors wide-ranging research and training. It also develops policies and practices. However, OJJDP may be best known for its programs and projects. OJJDP sponsors 17 different programs. Some of the programs include:

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