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In 1980, the American Bar Association (ABA) promulgated a far-reaching comprehensive body of Juvenile Justice Standards, thereby providing a blueprint for the reform of a system that had serious deficiencies. Developed in partnership with the Institute of Judicial Administration (IJA) at New York University, the standards address the entire juvenile justice continuum, from police handling and intake to adjudication, disposition, juvenile corrections, and ancillary functions. Approximately 300 professionals collaborated for a decade to produce the 23 volumes approved by the ABA House of Delegates.

To this day, the standards remain relevant and reformist. Several have been implemented in whole or in part. However, since institutional resistance has compromised the meaningful consideration of the standards as a whole, the ABA must redouble its efforts to promote their acceptance and implementation.

This article looks at the history of the standards' development and implementation, and delineates the need for updating several provisions and the urgent need to advocate for their application.