Some key states may drop out of the federal funding program to improve juvenile justice because of a change in the law on housing juvenile inmates with adults, reports Youth Today. The Justice Department’s interpretation of a little-noticed 2002 federal law is that juveniles who are tried as adults must be separated from other teens in custody within six months of reaching their age of majority, usually 18 but 16 or 17 in 14 states.
Oregon, for example, retains youths who committed crimes as juveniles in its juvenile justice system even if they were tried as adults. Oregon’s share of federal juvenile justice aid is down to $665,000 annually. That isn’t enough to warrant changing state policy to obtain funds from Washington, says an official. Missouri may drop federal funding for the same reason. Division of Youth Services director Tim Decker says, “it’s not about the money, it’s about the young people” he would have to transfer to adult prisons.