The New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office released a 33-page directive Thursday outlining measures to keep juvenile offenders in their communities.
Under these rules, cops and prosecutors should only lock up a juvenile as a last resort, NJ Advance Media reported.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the reform bolsters state efforts to “eliminate longstanding disparities” that prevent juveniles from communities of color “from reaching their full potential.”
According to the attorney general’s office, 12,000 juveniles were detained in 2003 and the new total is less than 2,500 every year.
“If we can turn a youth away from the juvenile justice system, we know they stand a much better chance of turning their life toward success in the long run,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
According to the rules, when an officer catches a juvenile committing a minor offense the officer should issue a face-to-face warning and generally not take them in to the police station. Officers have been asked to track these “curbside warnings.”
The rules also encourage prosecutors to try rehabilitation or other social service options first when a juvenile is charged.