Youth Law Center Statement on COVID-19 and Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
The COVID-19 pandemic has required unprecedented actions at the local, state, and federal levels to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of people across the country. However, one of the most vulnerable populations, young people in the juvenile justice system, is being overlooked in the actions taken by government at every level to protect people during this pandemic. Traditionally, the juvenile justice system has relied on detention, confinement, and placement in institutional settings as well as other interventions that require young people and their families to come into contact with individuals in large group settings. Many of the COVID-19 containment measures cannot be effectively employed within the traditional intervention model used in the juvenile justice system. In juvenile justice facilities, youth are confined in close quarters with shift staff coming in and out of facilities that have limited ability to implement appropriate social distancing and to ensure adequate hygiene practices, sanitation, and access to healthcare. In order to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of all young people involved in the juvenile justice system, YLC has compiled a list of recommendations for jurisdictions all across the country. The Youth Law Center is calling upon federal, state, and local policymakers and other decision makers in the juvenile justice system to immediately implement these recommendations.