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Juvenile Justice

What happens in the courtroom is only one piece of the juvenile justice puzzle. Youth detention and alternative detention programs represent costly components of the juvenile justice system that are currently experiencing some of the most dramatic reforms at the state level. Amid court challenges and legislative changes, detention funding questions are arising at a time when Indiana ranks fourth in the nation for how many children it locks up and as counties push alternative programs designed to limit the number of juveniles being sent to state and secure detention facilities.

A report released in early April by a national child advocate group, the Every Child Matters Education Fund based in Washington, D.C., shows that Indiana's per capita juvenile incarceration rate for children ages 10 through 17 is 415.4 per 100,000 juveniles. Only Florida, South Dakota, and Wyoming have worse records. And Indiana is 473 percent higher than the Vermont, the state that locks up the fewest juveniles. The report states that juveniles in the worst 10 states are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as those in the best-ranked states.

Marion County Juvenile

Indiana Department of Correction figures show that about 1,014 juveniles were incarcerated as of Jan. 1, 2008, at the state's seven facilities, a steady increase from previous reports. More than 80 percent are males.

"Detention isn't good for kids," Marion Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores said."When you put (juvenile) shoplifters with kids charged with armed robbery, that shoplifter is going to rise to that higher level  not the opposite."

Detention decisions

At the local level, Hoosier counties can look at their own jurisdictions and see a reflection of the report's findings, though many are working to limit the number of juveniles locked up in favor of placement alternatives. There are about two dozen secure detention facilities in Indiana, with local juvenile courts or county officials administering most of them and traditionally using county funds to pay detention costs.

Late last year, St. Joseph Juvenile Judge Peter Nemeth stopped sending female offenders to a state-run juvenile center in Indianapolis because he felt it lacked sufficient staffing and adequate services; in an open letter to Gov. Mitch Daniels, he cited claims of girls being "warehoused" and accusations of sexual contact.

The Marion County Juvenile Detention Center has undergone a transformation since a 2006 investigation and audits found unsafe conditions for staff and detainees -- concerns echoed at facilities nationwide and spelled out in lawsuits against facilities in at least 11 states in recent years. In the state's largest county, the U.S. Department of Justice has scrutinized the county-run juvenile detention center for nearly two years because of concerns about issues such as violence and education, but earlier in April the federal department filed a settlement agreement to continue monitoring for another three years to make sure improvements are being made.

Judge Moores is proud of the alternative detention options the county has utilized, as well as a new risk-assessment tool being used to determine whether kids should be detained. Since she took the bench in 2005 and the detention center's jurisdiction shifted from the Juvenile Court to the Superior Court Executive Committee, the 144-bed facility has gone from average daily populations of about 200 -- with kids staying on cots and floors  to a current average daily population in the mid- to high 90s, according to her court's figures.

While some counties can be seen as examples of why detention shouldn't be the first or most common option chosen when deciding how to handle juvenile offenders, the reform efforts can be commendable, advocates say. But so much of it comes to funding, and they admit that's part of the problem now facing the juvenile justice system.

Funding

fundingDetention alternatives work the best, as juveniles and those in the trenches point out, but it can be difficult to utilize in areas of Indiana where funding and resources are scarce.

"We have too many kids we throw away," said Janet Peterson, a Lake County supervisor for the Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force. "We have programs that work and can stop them from becoming a permanent problem in the adult system."

In Marion County alone, about 300 youths were securely detained in 2007 who would have been released had additional appropriate alternatives to secure detention been available, according to Gael Deppert, who leads the Marion County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative. The total price tag came to almost $1.14 million last year for those juveniles, breaking down to about $253 per day to detain a juvenile and an average of about $3,795 per child for an average 15-day stay.

That's not even looking at overall child-welfare costs, estimated to be about $100 million a year in the county. The statewide costs are in the ballpark of $440 million annually to provide services to abused and neglected children and families, and youth in the juvenile justice system.

In Wayne County, public defender Kaarin Lueck said that too often the only option is secure detention because alternatives aren't available in more rural counties.

"You have to turn to the DOC, and that's not the intent of the delinquency system," she said.

That funding issue is now one that's playing out on two fronts -- the Indiana Court of Appeals and the General Assembly. The COA is considering Marion County and St. Joseph County v. State of Indiana, 73A01-0705-CV-238, which has statewide implications regarding who must pay to operate juvenile detention facilities  the state or individual counties. The counties sued in 2005 after Indiana tried to recover about $75 million it spent operating juvenile detention facilities in those two areas, and a Shelby County judge last spring ruled in favor of the state.

During arguments April 17, the counties argued that a 1953 law violated the Indiana Constitution when it allowed the state to charge counties for housing juveniles in the Indiana boys' and girls' schools, now the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Hurt That case comes just as the state's juvenile justice system is prepping for a new law to begin next year, effectively shifting juvenile detention costs from the counties to the state.

Buried within hundreds of pages of sweeping property tax reform passed by the General Assembly this year and signed into law by the governor in March are several provisions that mean juvenile courts could lose some say on children in the state's care.

Juvenile judges, attorneys, and advocates worry what the new law will mean for children in the system, while proponents emphasize how this will expand Indiana's ability to collect federal reimbursements and make the process more efficiently centralized through the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Key parts of the law impacting the juvenile justice system include:

• DCS must sign off on plans ordered by judges for abused and neglected children and their families, and juvenile courts must submit recommendations for services, programs, or placements of a delinquent child to DCS for preapproval.

• Provides the DCS is not responsible for the costs of child services if the juvenile court has not entered the required findings and the DCS has determined the child otherwise meets the Title IV-E eligibility requirements.

• In all cases, if the juvenile court orders services, programs, or placements that are not eligible under Title IV-B or Title IV-E and are not recommended or approved by the DCS, the DCS is not responsible to pay the costs of those services, programs or placements.

• If either party doesn't agree with the other's findings, the court or DCS can appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals and go through an expedited appellate review process that's currently being established.

Small countiesIndiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard doesn't see danger, although he admits it will take time to sort through the enormous changes and opposition is likely because of the traditional local control.

"It's far from certain where all of this will shake out, but it's all about doing what's favorable to the interests of children," he said. "Kids won't get shuffled back and forth depending on who's paying the bill."

Lake Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura said she has confidence that the DCS wants to do right by kids and that obstacles in this law can be overcome, including the concerns about a tighter timeline in making some of these juvenile justice decisions.

"This certainly is going to put a new spin on what we do, but the courts will ultimately decide what's in the best interest of the children," she said.

The DCS and director James Payne, former juvenile judge in Marion County, did not return phone calls or e-mails from Indiana Lawyer seeking an interview for this story.

In Marion County, Judge Moores predicts the changes will create funding challenges for the juvenile court system. While the state is picking up the tab for state-detained juveniles, it isn't taking responsibility for all the services and programs currently being paid through the county funds. That means alternative detention programs and mental health diversion programs in place statewide could be in danger, unless counties find a way to raise money for those options, she said.

Small counties 2"Small counties have struggled without centralization and that's what everyone's wanted, but this is a case of 'Be careful what you ask for.' The entire funding system is being centralized, and this is akin to the executive branch trying to direct the judicial. I certainly understand the need for a homogenous approach across the state, but this may have unintended consequences that do more harm than good."

 Amy Karozos, an attorney with the Youth Law T.E.A.M. of Indiana and chair of the Indiana State Bar Association's Civil Rights of Children Committee, worries that more secure detentions or DOC placements could result from this new law.

"That's a possibility because there won't be as many options or services as there were to kids in the delinquency system," she said. "But right now, no one is sure what effects it may have."

Advocates working on the front lines remain optimistic, despite the obstacles.

Alternative detention efforts will continue trying to cut the number of incarcerated youth, even as juvenile justice officials work to sort out funding and procedural questions, they say.

"We're the early warning system for the entire criminal justice system, and we need to get at the root of the problem," Judge Moores said. "Detention and alternatives should be nurturing and educational for kids ... . We're not there yet, and it's disappointing, but Rome wasn't built in a day."

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  1. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  2. A high ranking bureaucrat with Ind sup court is heading up an organization celebrating the formal N word!!! She must resign and denounce! http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  3. ND2019, don't try to confuse the Left with facts. Their ideologies trump facts, trump due process, trump court rules, even trump federal statutes. I hold the proof if interested. Facts matter only to those who are not on an agenda-first mission.

  4. OK so I'll make this as short as I can. I got a call that my daughter was smoking in the bathroom only her and one other girl was questioned mind you four others left before them anyways they proceeded to interrogate my daughter about smoking and all this time I nor my parents got a phone call,they proceeded to go through her belongings and also pretty much striped searched my daughter including from what my mother said they looked at her Brest without my consent. I am furious also a couple months ago my son hurt his foot and I was never called and it got worse during the day but the way some of the teachers have been treating my kids they are not comfortable going to them because they feel like they are mean or don't care. This is unacceptable in my mind i should be able to send my kids to school without worry but now I worry how the adults there are treating them. I have a lot more but I wanted to know do I have any attempt at a lawsuit because like I said there is more that's just some of what my kids are going through. Please respond. Sincerely concerned single parent

  5. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

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