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Judges affirm juvenile placement in DOC

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was sympathetic to a teen’s request to not be placed in the Department of Correction, but it noted that all other remedies for his rehabilitation had been exhausted in his home county.
 
In J.J. v. State of Indiana, No. 47A01-0911-JV-557, J.J. appealed the juvenile court’s order that he be committed to the Indiana Boys School, a part of the DOC. J.J. has been in and out of trouble for several years and struggled with mental health problems, drug abuse, and anger management.

“J.J. has been given every chance to work to solve his problems and comply with the rule of law, but he has continued to reoffend,” wrote Chief Judge John Baker. “In just a few short years, J.J. exhausted every rehabilitative program offered by Lawrence County, and is left with no option other than the Department of Correction.”

J.J. argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion because his prior offenses had been “minor,” he had a history of mental health issues, and a history of drug abuse that he claimed he hadn’t received treatment for.

“Although we sympathize with this argument and certainly acknowledge that J.J. is a troubled individual who is grappling with a number of significant problems, we place great weight on the juvenile court’s conclusion that ‘the Lawrence County Juvenile Probation has exhausted what means they have for rehabilitation for [J.J.] …,’” wrote the chief judge.

The appellate court also reversed the juvenile court’s finding of delinquency for committing what would be Class D felony resisting law enforcement had it been committed by an adult in one of his cases. The juvenile referee failed to submit findings for the juvenile court’s review on the matter, as required by Indiana Code Section 31-31-3-6(2). The referee made no findings of fact on the charge and merely completed a boilerplate form stating J.J. committed resisting law enforcement as a Class D felony.

“The juvenile court should be able to read the recommended order drafted by the referee, glean all relevant facts therefrom, and come to an informed decision about whether or not to adopt the referee’s recommendations,” wrote Chief Judge Baker.
 

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