U.S. Department of Justice

Orphanages, Training Schools, Reform Schools and Now This? Recommendations to Prevent the Disproportionate Placement and Inadequate Treatment of Children with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System

Publication year: 2015
"There remains an urgent need to protect children and youth with disabilities from unnecessary incarceration. When confinement is necessary, it is critical that they are provided the services they need to grow and develop, as well as the educational and rehabilitation necessary to rejoin their communities successfully … P&A [Protection & Advocacy] agencies have the authority to provide legal representation and other advocacy services, under all federal and state laws, to all people with disabilities, and are the largest provider of legally based services for people with disabilities in the nation. The P&A network staff understand what children and youth with disabilities encounter within the juvenile justice system because they are there to see it. P&As work with children and youth with disabilities on the front end of the juvenile justice system, and also maintain a presence in the facilities in which they are found, including prisons, jails, and detention centers. P&As have the legal authority to monitor and investigate allegations of abuse in these facilities … In this report, we will describe the problems children and youth with disabilities encounter, solutions utilized with success by the P&As, and provide specific recommendations for systemic improvements" (p. 8-9). Sections contained in this report include: executive summary; Overview of the Problem: Incarcerating Children with Disabilities Does Not Make Them Better Adults and Does Not Make Communities Safer; Diversion: Children With Disabilities Are Placed in the Juvenile Justice System Due to Failures in Other Systems; Conditions: Once in the System, They Are Not Treated Humanely Nor Provided The Services They Require; Re-Entry: Children with Disabilities Are Detained More Readily, Remain In the System Longer Than Other Children, and Are Deprived of the Services Necessary to Prevent Recidivism; and Recommendations: Concrete Steps Systems and Policy Makers Can Make Now.