The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, or JJDPA, tries to protect young people by requiring officials to avoid holding them in the same jail or prison as adults. The law prohibits states from keeping young people in the same jail or prison as adults for more than six hours (or 24 hours in rural areas), whether they are waiting to see a judge, to be “booked,” or are serving a sentence after being convicted. The purpose of the JJDPA is to prevent minors, or juveniles, from dangers like abuse or suicide, which are more likely to occur if imprisoned alongside adults.
In the past several years, however, Maryland jails and prisons have violated the JJDPA requirement several times, according to The Daily Record. In 2009, for example, 287 separate violations occurred, in which young people were kept in adult facilities for more than six hours.