Prior to 1995, services for Oklahoma's in-need-of-supervision and delinquent youth were provided by the Department of Human Services. In January, 1978, the Terry D. v. Rader lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Oklahoma City. The suit alleged abusive practices, unconstitutional use of isolation and restraints, the absence of adequately trained staff, and the mixing of offenders with non-offenders. As a result, a number of public institutions were closed, and the Department of Human Services implemented a variety of community-based programs for children and youth, including both residential and non-residential services.
In 1994, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Juvenile Reform Act (H.B. 2640) creating the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) as the state juvenile justice agency, effective July 1, 1995. This legislation also created the Youthful Offender Act to provide swift justice for serious and habitual juvenile offenders 15 through 17 years of age.
OJA was given the responsibility and authority to manage the state's juvenile affairs, and on April 5, 1996, OJA was able to meet the Federal Court requirements for dismissal of the Terry D. lawsuit. A new era of innovative programs, increased community involvement, and an enhanced, open relationship with the judiciary had begun.