Noncriminal Juveniles:

Detentions Have Been Reduced but Better Monitoring Is Needed

T-GGD-91-30: Published: May 22, 1991. Publicly Released: May 22, 1991.

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GAO discussed the detention of noncriminal juvenile status offenders and the extent to which they were placed in detention facilities for violating a court order. GAO noted that: (1) 50 jurisdictions participating in a formula grant program to develop alternatives to detention reduced the number of status offenders in their secure facilities from about 187,000 when they joined the program to about 10,000 in 1988, a 95-percent reduction; (2) while states continued to detain some status offenders in secure facilities, the number of such detentions fell below the maximum limit for remaining eligible for formula grant funds; (3) half of the participating states took advantage of a 1980 amendment allowing them to exclude the number of detentions resulting from violation of a valid court order; (4) between 1985 and 1988, 46 audited states reported that they had either begun or completed action to improve their monitoring procedures as a result of the initial compliance audits; and (5) at three detention facilities, records of court-ordered detentions showed no evidence that the facilities provided all of the procedural protections required for an exclusion. GAO believes that all states participating in the grant program reduced the number of status offenders detained to a level that either complied with the regulations or showed progress towards compliance.

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