Jurisdictional boundaries

States vary in how each sets the basic playing field for juvenile justice with lower and upper age boundaries. State legislatures further create a range of complex exceptions for transfer to criminal court based on case-by-case, age and offense specifics.

  • Delinquency age boundaries 2018

    • Upper age

      17 years old

    • Lower age

      10 years old

    • Extended age

      Full term

  • Transfer provisions 2016

    Transfer pathways
    • Discretionary waiver
    • Presumptive waiver
    • Mandatory waiver
    • Statutory exclusion
    • Once/always adult
    • Prosecutor discretion
    Mitigating provisions
    • Reverse waiver (remand)
    • Juvenile blended sentencing
    • Criminal blended sentencing
  • Transfer trends


Juvenile defense [3]

Much is at stake in a juvenile court action for delinquency, and successful outcomes are influenced by a family's ability to retain effective counsel early-on and retain them until a permanent resolution to all aspects of the legal matter is resolved.

  • Defense structure 2017

    • Organization


    • Oversight

      Full oversight

  • Waiver of counsel 2014

    Factors for consideration in juvenile justice statutes:

    • Age

    • Crime

    • Hearing

    • Placement

  • Indigency requirements 2013

    Indigency determination: Public defender

Racial/ethnic fairness [1][2][4]

Youth of color are overrepresented in many aspects of the juvenile justice system, from arrest to court referral and confinement. Thus a core requirement of federal juvenile justice policy requires each state to identify where disparities may exist.

  • Indicator data 2017

    Publishes annual indicator data only.

  • DMC coordinators 2016

    Part-time or other state-level staff

  • Tribal delinquency jurisdiction 2016

    Shared with: Federal

  • Monitoring data

    • N/A: Insufficient data to compute arrest rates
    • * Rates used to compute ratio based on fewer than 10 observations
    • † White detained rate is 0

Juvenile court

Each state has established a court with juvenile jurisdiction to address the law violating conduct of youth. Explore the structural and procedural differences.

  • Judicial selection 2022

    • Elected

    • Appointed

    • Combination

  • Judicial specialization 2022

    • All mixed case types

    • Mostly mixed

    • Mostly specialized

  • Caseload assignment 2022

    • Mixed assignment methods

    • Individual discretion

    • Statute/State court rules

  • Judicial experience, training, and tools 2022

    • Qualification Requirements

    • Required Annual Training

    • Required Risk/Need Assessments and Pre-Dispositional Reports

    • Juvenile Justice Bench Books

  • Courtroom shackling 2015

    No statewide requirement

  • Competency 2015

    • No juvenile standard

    • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

    • Juvenile justice standard exists

    • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Juvenile justice services [5][6]

Every state has a set of laws establishing a system of juvenile courts and a corresponding intervention system commonly referred to as juvenile justice services. The different frameworks effectively create 51 distinctly different juvenile justice systems.

  • Purpose clauses 2016

    • No clause

    • Parens patriae

    • Due process era

    • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

    • Developmental Approach

  • Organization structure 2022

    • Detention

      State operated

    • Reentry

      State operated

    • Probation

      Locally operated

    • Overall

      Mostly state operated

  • Corrections agency 2015

    • Independent juvenile corrections agency

    • Family/child welfare agency or division

    • Broad human services agency

    • Adult corrections agency or division

  • Intake and diversion 2016

    Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense and statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

  • Solitary confinement 2016

    • Prohibits punitive confinement

    • Limits punitive confinement

    • No limits on punitive confinement

    • Did not respond

  • Release decision 2016

    • Agency

    • Court

    • Parole board

    • Agency and court

  • Risk assessment 2020

    • Statewide uniform assessment

    • Layered/regional assessment

    • Locally administered assessment

  • Sex offense registry 2015


  • Risk instruments 2017

    • Statute or agency policy

    • Agency recommended

    Colorado Juvenile Risk Assessment

  • Mental health screening 2014

    Required in the following services:

    • Secure detention

    • Probation

    • Corrections

  • EBP support center 2014

    Has a support center or collaboratives dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs.

  • Recidivism indicators 2016

    • Study populations: Supervision, Placement
    • Re-offense events: Court action
    • Follow-up periods: 36 months with interval and adult systems reporting

Status offense issues [7]

A wide range of non-criminal behaviors by youth are grouped as status offenses. Actions such as truancy, running away or acting stubborn can thrust an adolescent into formal juvenile court actions for services and safety but also where their liberty may be at-risk.

  • Labeling 2015

    Spectrum of labels

    Victim Child welfare perspective
    Offender Public safety perspective
    • In need of aid, assistance, or care

    • In need of services

    • In need of supervision

    • Unruly

    • Status offender

  • Age boundaries 2016

    • Status offense jurisdiction: Up through 17 years old. (lower age not specified)
    • Delinquency jurisdiction: 10 through 17 years old
  • Reported data


Systems integration [8][9][10]

Youth involved in more than one system require special attention and coordination.  State and local policy-makers are increasingly sharing data concerning dual status youth and establishing a wide range of exciting coordination models.

  • Agency integration 2016

    One or all are decentralized

  • State coordination 2014

    • Data sharing

    • Committees or advisory groups

    • Formal interagency MOUs

    • Informal interagency agreements

    • Statute and/or court rules

  • Reported data


Data sources

  1. ^ a b c d Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics
    For offense category definitions, please see the glossary.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Easy Access to Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement
    For offense category definitions, please see the glossary.
  3. ^ Kids Without Counsel: Colorado's Failure to Safeguard Due Process for Children in Juvenile Delinquency Court
    Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition
  4. ^ Colorado Judicial Districts and State Relative Indexes (RRI) for Juveniles, Federal Fiscal Year 2016
    The Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
  5. ^ Pre-release Termination and Post-Release Recidivism Rates of Colorado’s Probationers: FY2014 Releases
    Kris Nash, Evaluation Unit Division of Probation Services, State Court Administrator’s Office, Colorado Judicial Branch
  6. ^ Recidivism Evaluation of the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections Regarding Youth Discharged in Fiscal Years 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14
    Colorado Office of Children, Youth and Families, Division of Youth Corrections
  7. ^ Annual Statistical Report
    Colorado Judicial Branch
  8. ^ Annual Progress and Services Report
    State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services
  9. ^ Annual Progress and Services Report
    State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services
  10. ^ Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act State Plan (CAPTA)
    State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services

State resources

Juvenile justice leadership

Other stakeholders

Policy (legal) research

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About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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