What is meant by the deinstitutionalization of status offenses?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To understand what deinstitutionalization of status offenses (DSO) is, we have to first understand what a status offense is.  A status offense is an action that is illegal for a juvenile but would not be a crime if the person doing the action were an adult.  Examples of status offenses...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

To understand what deinstitutionalization of status offenses (DSO) is, we have to first understand what a status offense is.  A status offense is an action that is illegal for a juvenile but would not be a crime if the person doing the action were an adult.  Examples of status offenses are such things as curfew violation, truancy, and underage purchase of cigarettes.

With this in mind, we can understand what DSO means.  DSO simply refers to the idea that status offenses should not cause a juvenile offender to be institutionalized.  That is, a juvenile should not be put in juvenile detention or in a juvenile correctional facility.  Instead, these offenders should be referred to other agencies that are not part of the juvenile justice system.  DSO was mandated by law (the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act) in 1974.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team