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Counties must pay for juvenile facilities

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Juvenile Justice

Indiana counties are responsible to pay a portion of costs to operate juvenile detention facilities, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided June 13.

The appellate court reached that decision in Marion County and St. Joseph County, Indiana v. State of Indiana, et al., No. 73A01-0705-CV-238, affirming summary judgment in favor of the state.

Marion and St. Joseph counties filed a lawsuit seeking relief from their debts to the state for costs of operating juvenile detention facilities after the state attempted to collect arrearages from the counties. The two counties - which owed a total of $75 million - sought declaratory and injunctive relief and restitution on all of their payments since 1995.

They claimed Article 9, Section 2 of the Indiana Constitution requires the state to pay the total cost of operation. The appellate judges examined Article 9, which states, “The General Assembly shall provide institutions for the correction and reformation of juvenile offenders.” The text of this article doesn’t specify how the General Assembly will determine the method of funding, wrote Judge Melissa May.

The counties failed to show whether requiring them to share in the costs of operating the facilities is unconstitutional.

The counties argued Indiana Code only allowed the state to charge them for expenses incurred by the Plainfield Juvenile Correctional Facility and the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility, and that all accounts submitted since 1995 are invalid because they didn’t comply with requirements under Indiana Code.

If the counties are constitutionally required to pay, the counties argued, they are only liable for expenses from the Plainfield and Indianapolis correctional facilities because they are the ones mentioned in the statute. In 2005, the specific references to those facilities were removed and replaced with a general reference to the DOC.

The Court of Appeals found the counties’ interpretation of Indiana Code Sections 4-24-7-2 and 11-10-2-3 would lead to an absurd and unjust result because the General Assembly always intended for counties to bear part of the costs of the entire state system.

The DOC has the authority to determine which facilities to operate and where to assign juveniles, so it no longer made sense for the General Assembly to identify specific facilities in the statutes, Judge May wrote. As such, the DOC has the authority to charge the counties for expenses incurred at all facilities.

Indiana Code Section 4-24-7-2 outlines the collection procedures for juvenile accounts, which include signature and attestation requirements. The state didn’t comply with these procedures, which the counties believe led the state to overcharge them.

The appellate judges agreed with the trial court that the alleged overcharges aren’t sufficiently connected with the state’s failure to follow the signature and seal requirements of Indiana Code, Judge May wrote, and the DOC’s billing procedure sufficiently fulfilled the purpose of I.C. Section 4-24-7-2.

The state countered that the counties lacked standing and their suit was barred by the statute of limitations and doctrines of laches; the Court of Appeals disagreed, yet affirmed the trial court’s decision on the merits of the counties' claims.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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