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Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) and Movie

Strom Law Firm partnered with Represent Justice, Share One Love and SCCID to host a screening of the movie “On These Grounds” followed by a discussion on the South Carolina Juvenile Justice Reform Act, and a Q & A with activist Vivian Anderson (Every Black Girl) and Professor Josh Gupta-Kagan (University of South Carolina).  The event took place at Barrister Hall and was cosponsored by the Lawyers’ Committee on Children’s Rights, South Carolina.

Social Justice Reform

Photo (L to R): Chamal Mediwaka (Strom Law Firm), Josh Gupta-Kagan (University of South Carolina Law School), Dr. Aleksandra Chauhan (Public Defender - Richland County), Vivian Anderson (Every Black Girl) , Jordan Thomas (Share One Love)

The Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) and the school-prison pipeline

  • Narrows “student threats”
  • Requires information on special education status to be shared with school-based Family Court referrals
  • Limits misdemeanor school-based referrals to when child engages in repeat behavior (3x over 6 months)
  • Limits when schools must report crimes to law enforcement to serious offenses
  • Prohibits incarceration for status offenses, including truancy

The JJRA: Reforms Related to Education

  • Limits the statute related to student threats (SECTION 4)
  • Changes to possession of non-lethal weapons on school grounds statute (SECTION 5)
  • Establishes petition requirements for misdemeanor school-based offenses (SECTION 29)
  • Limits unnecessary referrals to law enforcement by reducing the school-to- prison pipeline (SECTION 29)
  • Limits collateral consequences of juvenile justice system involvement at school (SECTION 46)
  • Prohibits automatic placement in an alternative school upon release from DJJ (SECTION 47)
  • Provides assistance to justice-involved children with timely graduation (SECTION 47)
  • School liaisons to facilitate children’s reentry into local school districts (SECTION 47)

Reforms on Diversion programs

  • Establishes the presumption of diversion for first-time non-violent offenses (SECTION 28)
  • Establishes at least one pre-detention intervention program in each circuit (SECTION 23)
  • Establishes a civil citation program (SECTION 3)
  • Establishes specialty treatment programs in each circuit (SECTION 35)
  • Requires diversion programs to be available for more than first time offenders (SECTION 28)
  • Establishes an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal option (SECTION 32)
  • Establishes diversion programs for status offenders (SECTION 27)
  • Establishes a standard for diversion programs to be evidence-based, culturally relevant, trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate and they need to promote long-term success for children (SECTION 23)
  • Prohibits fees for juvenile diversion programs (SECTION 31)

Reforms related to status offenders

  • Prohibits incarceration of status offenders (SECTION 26)
  • Mandates services to status offenders and their families before petitioning to the court (SECTION 28)
  • Prohibits commitment to DJJ for status offenders (SECTION 36)
  • Provides for automatic expungement for status offenses (SECTION 44)

JJRA Discussion



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