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Juvenile Justice Information

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) became law in 1974, and the State of Rhode Island has been an active participant since 1975. Since July 1994, Elizabeth Gilheeney has been the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Specialist for the Public Safety Grant Administration Office. Funding recommendations are developed by The Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (JJAC) and then approved by the Justice Commission Policy Board.

The goals of the JJAC are to carry out the mandates of the JJDPA Act:

  • Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO);
  • Jail Removal (juveniles not to be detained or confined in any jail or lockup for adults);
  • Sight and Sound Separation of juveniles (from adults);
  • Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) addresses efforts to reduce the proportion of juveniles detained or confined in secure detention/correctional facilities, jails, and lockups who are members of minority groups if such proportion exceeds the proportion such groups represent in the general population.

Rhode Island has maintained substantial compliance with the four JJDPA mandates since 1995. The Juvenile Justice Specialist, along with the JJAC, have committed its energies to:

  • Creating conditions in RI communities that promote the positive development of youth;
  • Reducing youth-related problems, i.e. truancy, substance abuse, school drop outs;
  • Advocating the development and implementation of projects related to young people; and
  • Increasing collaboration among community sectors, such as human service, business, law enforcement and religious institutions, to address youth problems.

Through the efforts of the JJ Specialist and the JJAC, the PSGAO has assisted in the creation of the Rhode Island Juvenile Officers Association, planned and organized the first recognition ceremony for juvenile officers in the state, organized and planned meetings for Rhode Island's Juvenile Hearing Boards, and organized a two day conference on Juvenile Justice which combined the Governor's Task Force on Juvenile Justice with other statewide efforts, organized the first gender specific conference in Rhode Island, participates in a federal initiative with respect to underage drinking prevention, collaborates with the RI Foundation in providing juvenile statistics for the RI Kids Count Book.

For more information contact Gina M. Tocco - (401) 764-5798 or Email