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Home > Compliance > Tools > Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO)

Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO)

Definition, Rules, and Regulations

Status Offender
A juvenile who has been charged with, or adjudicated for, conduct that would not be criminal if committed by an adult. Examples include: running away, underage drinking, underage possession of alcohol or tobacco, curfew violation (if the curfew ordinance applies only to juveniles) and truancy. Possession of a handgun by a juvenile is excluded from the status offense classification by state and federal laws. Juveniles who are illegal immigrants and have not committed a delinquent act are monitored as status offenders.
Non-Offender
A juvenile who is subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, usually under abuse, dependency, or neglect statutes, or mental health issues, but have not committed a delinquent act.
Delinquent
A juvenile who has been charged with, or adjudicated for, any conduct that would be criminal if committed by an adult. Examples include: D.U.I., open container in a vehicle, trespass, assault, burglary, etc.


Federal Rules and Regulations – DSO
Maine Juvenile Code Title 15 Sections 3103 and 3501

  • No status offender or non-offender may be placed in a secure setting for any period of time in an adult jail or lockup. If they are, complete information about them must be recorded on a Secure Juvenile Holding Log (Appendix 5 in Compliance Manual), and this action will be counted as a violation of both the DSO and Jail Removal core protection requirements. Therefore, one status offender or non-offender placed in a secured setting would count as two violations.
  • Booking: Law enforcement may complete the booking process of a status offender or non-offender in a secure booking area only if there is no unsecured booking area available, the juvenile is under continuous visual supervision, there are no adult offenders present and the juvenile is immediately removed from the secure booking area to a non-secure area for questioning or further processing. If these conditions are not met, the juvenile is considered to be in a “secure setting” and it is a violation.
  • A status offender or non-offender may be handcuffed to him/her self, but cannot be handcuffed to a stationary object.
  • A status offender or non-offender is considered to be in non-secure custody if they are under continuous visual law enforcement supervision and physical restriction of movement or activity is provided solely through facility staff (staff secure).
  • Any juvenile in a police car, or other vehicle in law enforcement control, is considered to be in non-secure custody.
  • Information on any juvenile who is placed in secure custody must be recorded on a Secure Juvenile Holding Log for the MDOC compliance monitor’s review.