Policing the Teen Brain

Lisa Thurau and her team at Strategies for Youth have been traveling around the country training law enforcement officers, including in Marion and Tippecanoe Counties in Indiana, about strategies for working with youth in a program called Policing the Teen Brain.  At the 2014 JDAI Indiana Inter-site Conference, many law enforcement officers in attendance raved about the impact of the program.

The reality is that many law enforcement academies minimally cover juvenile justice issues and how to work effectively with children.  For detailed information on law enforcement training, see If Not Now, When?:  A Survey of Juvenile Justice Training in America’s Police Academies (February 2013).

The justification for these types of law enforcement training programs is laid out in the article, The Need for Developmental Competency for Adults Working with Youth by Lisa Thurau and Jeff Bostic (2012), and the presentation Policing the Teen Brain: The Case for Training Officers in Developmental Competence, Inter-Agency Summit Annie E. Casey Foundation (April 2013).

The long-term impact of the training program is highlighted in Policing the Teen Brain by Jeff Bostic, Lisa Thurau, Mona Potter, and Stacy Drury, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (February 2014).



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Elkhart 4 Featured on Nightline Prime July 26, 2014

The Elkhart 4 story will be featured on Nightline Prime on Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm ET on ABC stations across the country.  As noted in this prior post, two Indiana juveniles were convicted and sentenced pursuant to Indiana’s felony murder rule, despite neither being armed or killing anyone.  But, they were present when a co-defendant was killed by the owner of the home that the juveniles entered during a burglary.  The appeals continue to wind their way through the appellate process.  The case was fully briefed as of May 21, 2014, but an opinion has not been issued by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

For those interested in similar juvenile documentaries, Calamari Productions has worked on many juvenile justice and child welfare documentaries featuring Indiana children, including:

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Detention 101

After attending a few of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) trainings, it has become clear that some of the stakeholders do not have a clear understanding of detention procedures, which makes the prospect of developing detention alternatives a leap across a vast cannon.  Detention hearings involve the judge (a member of the judicial branch of government) and a probation officer (an employee of the judicial branch of government) in a hearing with the parents, guardians, or custodians and the juvenile to determine whether the juvenile is detained or remains in the community.

The State should be the entity that puts forth the assertion that there is probable cause that the child committed a delinquent act — through affidavit or testimony by law enforcement officers — and that the child must be detained to protect the child or the community, or to assure that child’s future appearance in court proceedings.  I.C. 31-37-6-6.  “The State, as representing society at large, springs from a moral necessity….  The  State is not to be guided by expediency, nor by the merely external purpose of society.  It has an existence of its own to maintain, a conscience of its own to assert, moral principles to vindicate.  An act of delinquency is a wrong against the state for which the state has provided corrective as well as protective remedies…. The state is not designated as a party plaintiff in the proceedings, yet it is the state speaking to assert its paramount interest in the protection of society and infants even though it is not named in the petition.”  State ex rel. Johnson v. White Circuit Court, 225 Ind. 602, 77 N.E.2d 298 (1948).  In juvenile court, the State is represented by the prosecuting attorney.  I.C. 31-9-2-99.  The prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers are members of the executive branch of government.

Ideally, a defense attorney is present at each detention hearing to help the juvenile understand the court proceedings, unless there is a rare circumstance in which the child has knowingly waived the right to counsel.  It is hoped that Indiana Criminal Procedure Rule 25 will increase the number of defense attorneys attending detention hearings when it goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

Finally, reflect back on a troubling moment in Indiana juvenile court history.  In 2004, then-Judge James Payne of the Marion County Juvenile Court, received a private caution from the Indiana Supreme Court’s Commission on Judicial Qualifications for holding a detention hearing and ordering that a child be detained on a court holiday without the presence of a prosecutor, defense attorney, or other key court personnel.  See this Indiana Law Blog summary with a link to the archived Indianapolis Star article.


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“In Their Own Words” — Voices of Youth Transferred to Criminal Court in Ohio

In Their Own Words is a story collection project to raise awareness about youth under the age of eighteen who are facing charges in the adult criminal courts in Ohio.  Full stories are available here.  There is no similar project in Indiana, yet, there is a resonance of the voices that advocates hear in juvenile court in any state.

The project is supported by the Children’s Law Center, Inc. in Kentucky, which also houses the Central Juvenile Defender Center, one of nine regional centers of the National Juvenile Defender Center responsible for assisting juvenile defense attorneys throughout the region, including Indiana, with public policy advocacy and training.

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2014 JDAI Indiana Inter-Site Conference – Indianapolis

On July 22-23, 2014, stakeholders, service providers, and juvenile justice advocates and experts will meet for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Indiana Inter-Site Conference in Indianapolis.  All of the existing counties and those who are currently being added to the JDAI project — nineteen counties total with up to ten stakeholders from each county — were invited to participate in the training.  The information needs and questions of the diverse participants will be addressed through breakout sessions and opportunities to network with others in a similar role in the court system (prosecutors, probation, public defenders, law enforcement, education, etc.).

If you are following this blog on Twitter, look for some live tweets during the event!

For more about JDAI, see these prior posts:

The post 2014 JDAI Indiana Inter-Site Conference – Indianapolis was first posted on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.


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Identifying a Brainwashed Child in Family Law Cases

The American Bar Association, Section of Family Law, has published Child Held Hostage: Identifying Brainwashed Children, Presenting a Case and Crafting Solutions (2nd Edition) by Stanley S. Clawar and Brynne V. Rivlin.  The book focuses on how children may be influenced in their testimony in court or during interviews with mental health experts during divorce proceedings, but these issues of parental influence are often present in CHINS and juvenile delinquency cases as well.

For additional information on children testifying in court, particularly during CHINS proceedings, see Working with the Courts in Child Protection, Chapter 7, Going to Court by William G. Jones, Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (2006).

The post Identifying a Brainwashed Child in Family Law Cases first appeared on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.

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Legal Careers and “The Subtle Tyranny of the Word BALANCE”

A few months ago, I participated in a legal professions class for first-year law students as they begin to explore the career paths in this very difficult legal market.  Near the end of the period, one brave soul asked the panel how we find balance given all that we do in our legal careers.  I laughed out loud.  In my opinion, too often we are sending these young students the message that their lives have to be a divided pie with each wedge carefully sized and devoted to important parts in their overall lives.  I told them that I do not understand the message that 14% of my life must be devoted to skiing or whatever to find true happiness and “balance.”  There are times when my life is nothing but the law, with a little tiny wedge for sleep and basic grooming.  There are other times, when the proportions shift to include more time for family, friends, adventures, and artistic endeavors.  I think the point is to be fluid and make time when the opportunities arise for other, non-legal wedges.  Obviously, as I have posted on many times, if you are struggling and overwhelmed, reach out to the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP).

The following message posted on the Facebook page of the author Elizabeth Gilbert resonated about “balance:”

Against BALANCE…

Dear Ones -

The other night at my event in St Paul, a young woman asked me about how I achieve balance in my life.

First of all, I love that she thinks I have achieved balance in my life!

Secondly, I felt the need to speak out once more against the subtle tyranny of the word BALANCE, which I think haunts and punishes modern women more and more every day.

We are constantly being told that we should be achieving balance — that we should somehow exquisitely be negotiating the relationships between our work lives, our home lives, our romantic lives, our health and well-being, our spiritual selves. You can’t read an interview with a famous woman these days that the journalist does not applaud her for having achieved BALANCE….and then if you turn the pages of that magazine, you will find ten more articles showing how you can achieve balance. too!

Be careful.

The word BALANCE has tilted dangerously close, I fear, to the word PERFECT — another word that women use as weapons against themselves and each other.

To say that someone has found the secret to a balanced life is to suggest that they have solved life, and that they now float through their days in a constant state of grace and ease, never suffering stress, ambivalence, confusion, exhaustion, anger, fear, or regret. Which is a wonderful description of nobody, ever.

Balance, when we do find it, is a breathtakingly temporary condition. We stand upon a world that spins at 2000 miles an hour. Our minds, meanwhile, spin at 200,000 miles an hour. We collide every day with other humans who are also sliding and spinning wildly. The landscape of our lives, therefore, changes by the minute. You find your balance one day and think, “Hooray! I have solved it” and then five minutes later the world utterly transforms again, and you’re knocked on your ass one more time.

That’s just how life is on this planet — messy, fast, out of control, unpredictable. It’s all terribly interesting, but also terribly unstable.

That being the case, I dropped the myth of BALANCE a long time ago. (I buried it right next to PERFECT.) My life seems happiest — as I tried to explain to this young woman the other night — when I just surrender to the madness, and embrace the glorious mess that I am…and also when I embrace the glorious mess that everyone else is, and the glorious mess of the world itself. My life gets the most painful when I try to set the entire mess (myself other people, life itself) into order.

The world is like a dropped pie most of the time. Don’t kill yourself trying to put it back together. Just grab a fork and eat some of it off the floor. Then carry on.

If you can get some stuff done in the chaos sometimes, god bless you. If you can basically hold it together, propping yourself up with duct tape and glue, rock on. If you can manage stay upright even one hour a day, you’re doing pretty great, as far as I’m concerned. And if you can be kind to the other stumbling fools around you half the time — well, that’s just heroic.

Basically, I think we are all just sloppy stupendous champions.



(Thanks so my cousin, JuLee, for this idea.)  The post Legal Careers and “The Subtle Tyranny of the Word BALANCE” first appeared on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.

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