The Interstate Commission for Juveniles is established to fulfill the objectives of the Compact, through means of joint cooperative action among the Compacting states to promote, develop and facilitate a uniform standard that provides for the welfare and protection of juveniles, victims and the public by governing the Compacting states’ transfer of supervision of juveniles, temporary travel of defined offenders and return of juveniles who have absconded, escaped, fled to avoid prosecution or run away.
The Interstate Commission for Juveniles, the governing body of the Interstate Compact for Juveniles, through means of joint and cooperative action among the compacting states, preserves child welfare and promotes public safety interests of citizens, including victims of juvenile offenders. With a focus on racial justice, the Commission provides enhanced accountability, enforcement, visibility, and communication in the return of juveniles who have left their state of residence without permission and in the cooperative supervision of delinquent juveniles who travel or relocate across state lines.
The Interstate Commission for Juveniles will promote public safety, victims' rights, and juvenile accountability that is balanced with safeguarding those juveniles in a fair and equitable way.
The Interstate Commission for Juveniles values:
- We honor the Compact’s spirit of communication, collaboration and mutual respect among all parties in the Compact.
- We hold ourselves accountable to our compact agreements.
- We expect and support continuous knowledge and skill development.
- We seek sustainability of ICJ via leadership development and national visibility.
- We value racial diversity and seek equitable outcomes and experiences for all juveniles served by the Compact and all parties in the Compact.
- We ensure that everything we do supports the outcomes stated in our mission.
All ICJ youth and families are safe, supported, and treated equitably.
The history of the Interstate Compact for Juveniles dates back to the 1950s, when concern grew throughout the United States about “a vast army of wandering kids being shuttled from place to place.” The U.S. Senate Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee launched an extensive investigation, which drew even more attention when findings became the subject of a Parade Magazine article, entitled “Nobody’s Children: How America’s 300,000 runaway teen-agers get the runaround.” Ross, S. & Keister, E. (1954, September) Nobody’s Children. Parade Magazine, 8-13.
Building on this momentum, the “original” Interstate Compact on Juveniles was created in 1955. The “original” Compact provided the first-ever framework for regulating the interstate movement of juveniles in order to address the safety needs of juveniles and communities. By 1986, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands and Guam had ratified the “original” Compact.
In 1999, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) conducted a detailed survey which uncovered a number of contentious issues within the Compact's structure. Along with the Council of State Governments (CSG), OJJDP determined that a revision of the existing Compact as the only option for long-term progress and sustainability. In 2001, OJJDP, CSG, and Association of Juveniles Compact Administrators (AJCA) developed and facilitated a drafting team of state officials to design a revised juvenile compact.
In 2002, after finalizing the Compact's language, an educational campaign began to help states’ policymakers better appreciate and understand the need for a new Compact. By 2003, the “new” Interstate Compact for Juveniles became available for introduction in the states. Throughout that year, twelve (12) states adopted the revised Compact. The “new” Compact reached its thirty-five (35) state threshold when Tennessee and Illinois enacted in 2008, allowing for transition and operational activities to commence.
One of the key improvements of the “new” Compact was the authorization to create a governing body with authority to promulgate rules and enforce compliance. Thus, the Interstate Commission for Juveniles was formed in 2008, with voting members (“Commissioners”) from each member jurisdiction. The Commission held its first Annual Business Meeting in December 2008 and hired its first full-time staff the same year.
In 2012, the Commission launched the first ever data system for tracking interstate movement of juveniles. The Juveniles Information Data System, commonly known as JIDS, which was retired in 2021 with the launch of the new and improved data system called UNITY (Uniform Nationwide Information Tracking for Youth) which provides a platform for state ICJ offices to exchange data regarding juveniles subject to the Compact.
April 2014 completed the ratification of the “new” Compact by all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands. The Commission uses a robust committee structure to carry out operations throughout the year and comes together for an engaging and productive Annual Business Meeting each fall.
For many years, the Commission was affiliated with CSG for administrative purposes. However, the Commission dis-affiliated from CSG in December 2016. The Commission’s National Office is now co-located with the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS). Though housed together, ICJ and ICAOS are separate organizations, with distinct missions, members, funding streams, data systems, and staff. Facilities and some business systems are shared for greater efficiency.
- Parade Magazine Article - Nobody's Children (1954)
- ICJ Resource Kit, Historical Overview prepared by The Council for State Governments (2002)
- Background and History, Presentation by John Mountjoy, CSG Director of Policy and Research (2008)
- "Keeping Track - Updated Compact Keeps Juvenile Offenders from Falling through the Cracks," NCIC Connections (2009)
- "Tracking Movement of Kids Keeps Them, and Communities, Safer," Capitol Ideas (2010)