Reeder & Brown, P.C.


Does the Federal Law Affect Juvenile Institutions?

 Posted on May 25, 2023 in Criminal Law

joliet criminal defense lawyerWhile juvenile cases are typically a matter of Illinois law, there are times when the federal government may get involved in the juvenile justice system. The Department of Justice (DOJ) may investigate conditions at juvenile institutions and take action when necessary. Overall, the Special Litigation Section of the DOJ is responsible for protecting the rights of juveniles who are confined in detention. You can always report matters when you are concerned about the conditions a juvenile is experiencing. If you already have a juvenile defense attorney, they will know where to make a report. 

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA)

DOJ has jurisdiction to review and investigate conditions within juvenile justice institutions under CRIPA.  DOJ does not have the authority to act in response to an individual claim. The agency stresses that they do not have the ability to review cases of wrongful detention of an individual juvenile or the conditions that one person is facing. However, DOJ will determine whether there are systemic issues at a particular institution. If these issues exist, DOJ will send a letter to the state or local government, directing them to take certain steps as corrective action. DOJ and the local government would need to reach an agreement on how the local government will fix these issues. If there is no agreement, DOJ can file a lawsuit against the local government in federal court. 

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

In addition, federal law prohibits a law enforcement agency, or any agent acting on their behalf, from engaging in a pattern of conduct that deprives juveniles of their Constitutional rights. Every has rights under the Constitution, including those detained in a juvenile justice institution. The federal government can take legal action when there is widespread misconduct at juvenile detention facilities, such as:

  • abusive institutional practices

  • unreasonable use of isolation and restraints

  • inadequate medical, mental health, and educational services

While you cannot file a lawsuit yourself, you can report your concerns, and the government may initiate an investigation. When the government first notifies the state that it is investigating, it may begin to improve conditions at a facility. You should be vigilant for any signs that a juvenile’s rights are being violated and report them immediately. 

Contact a Joliet Juvenile Law Attorney Today

If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced Will County juvenile defense lawyer. Your child’s rights are at stake, and you cannot leave them up to the juvenile justice system alone. Call us immediately at 815-885-5980 to discuss the case during a free initial consultation.


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