Juveniles in the Bureau

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

Congress recognized the special needs of juveniles with the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in 1974. This act provided federal grants to states and cities seeking to improve their handling and disposition of delinquent and status offenders. In order to accept federal monies through JJDPA, states had to meet two conditions within five years:

  • Agree to a separation mandate under which juveniles were not to be held in institutions where they might come into regular contact with adult prisoners; and

  • Status offenders were to be de-institutionalized, with most being released into the community or placed in foster homes.

  • Since the passage of the original act in 1974, JJDPA was amended and reauthorized by Congress in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, and 2002. For more information, www.ojjdp.gov.

    Federal Juvenile Population

    Federal juveniles are a special population with special designation needs. Each juvenile is placed in a facility that provides the appropriate level of programming and security. Several factors are considered when making placements, such as age, offense, length of commitment, mental and physical health.

    Historically, the federal juvenile population has consisted predominately of Native American males with an extensive history of drug and/or alcohol use/abuse, and violent behavior. These juveniles tend to be older in age, generally between 17 to 20 years of age, and are typically sentenced for sex-related offenses.

    In fact, the federal government has unique jurisdiction over crimes in Indian Country and the most serious crimes committed on reservations tend to be prosecuted in federal court. As a result, most federal juveniles are Native American. Typically, federal juvenile offenders have committed violent offenses and have an unfavorable history of responding to interventions and preventive measures in the community. As a last resort, they are sentenced by the federal courts to the custody of the Bureau (BOP). Federal law does not provide aftercare supervision for BOP custody cases following release from residential programs.

    The majority of the total federal juvenile population:

    • has required placement in secure facilities for violent offenses, including sex offenses, assault, robbery, and homicide; and

    • are predominately from South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona.


    The BOP recognizes that treatment needs of the juvenile offender population must be continually monitored to ensure programs effectively meet existing needs. Juvenile offenders are placed at the most appropriate type of facility.

    Secure Facility. This type of juvenile facility provides rehabilitation and accountability for federal juvenile offenders in a secure setting, thereby ensuring protection of the public. Offenders housed at these facilities include those sentenced to BOP custody or placed as a condition of supervision by federal courts.

    Non-Secure Facility. These terms - non-secure, staff secure, community-based, and juvenile community residential - are used interchangeably to describe a facility that is not surrounded by a perimeter fence and that facilitates the reintegration of juvenile offenders into the community. To achieve treatment and correctional objectives, non-secure juvenile facilities provide rehabilitation and accountability for federal juvenile offenders by confining them in appropriate settings that allow offender access to and activities within the community under monitored conditions, thus protecting society. Offenders housed at these facilities include those sentenced to BOP custody or placed as a condition of supervision by the federal courts.

    Juvenile - Family Reunification

    Regardless of the terminology used to describe the return of juvenile offenders to community settings following a period of incarceration (including, e.g., reentry, aftercare, post-release, supervised release, parole, probation supervision, and/or mandatory age release), every effort is made to ensure the individual is prepared to manage that release successfully. The BOP attempts to place all federal juveniles close to home to facilitate community reintegration and their eventual reuniting with their families.

    In fact, the process of family reunification begins during incarceration. In addition to encouraging family visitation, other services (e.g., individual and family counseling for juveniles, their families, and/or significant others) are made available when feasible. Counseling is provided by qualified professionals with an appropriate state license, if required. Additional consultation services are obtained when the need arises. Due to the high percentage of Native American juveniles in the system, reasonable provisions for visitation by the extended family, tribal elders, and tribal members are also made, provided this does not interfere with or disrupt the safe operation of the facility.

    For more information, view FAQs: Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs) & Juveniles or Community Corrections Contracting.