Should the Juvenile Court Retain Jurisdiction Over Parents During DOC Placement?

Has the time come to change the jurisdiction statutes to allow the juvenile court to order and enforce parental participation orders for community-based services for the family while the child is placed at the Indiana Department of Correction, Division of Youth Services (DOC)?  Currently, when a child is placed at DOC, the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over the case.  See I.C. 31-30-2-1(a)(2).  That means that the juvenile court has no authority to tell the child or the parent, guardian, or custodian what to do, hold review hearings, modify the disposition orders, etc.

The logic behind the current rule is that it allows DOC to have the freedom and responsibility to implement a treatment and discharge plan for the child and the family without interference.  However, in the last several years, DOC has closed the South Bend and Northeastern juvenile facilities and moved the only female juvenile facility to Madison, Indiana along the Ohio River.  For many families, the remaining juvenile facilities are just too far for visitation or meaningful participation in family therapy and other restorative services.  DOC is making strides to increase participation by using programs that are like Skype, but access to and knowledge of how to use computers is still a limiting factor.  In addition, DOC has few resources available for parents who may personally need substance abuse counseling, individual mental health therapy, parenting classes, homemaking classes, etc., in order to better parent the child when the child is discharged from DOC.

By modifying the current jurisdiction statute, the court could enforce a parental participation decree, pursuant to I.C. 31-37-15, for community-based services that the parent may need in order to fulfill the obligations of the parent that would be paid for by Medicaid or private insurance.  A consideration when analyzing this proposed change would be whether some families are completely uninsured still.  If so, should/would the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) be called upon to pay for the parental services while the child is placed at the DOC, as DCS currently pays for community-based parental services when the child remains in the community?

Anecdotally, it is said that some counties are currently just continuing to enforce the parental participation decree for community-based services, and no legal challenges have been made to the court’s jurisdiction so far.  If it has been effective in reducing juvenile recidivism, the statutes in the juvenile code should be modified to allow all of the county juvenile courts to assist parents while the child is placed at DOC.

The post Should the Juvenile Court Retain Jurisdiction Over Parents During DOC Placement? first appeared on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.

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15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story Premieres August 4, 2014

15 to Life:  Kenneth’s Story is a new documentary that will be shown on PBS on August 4, 2014.  Check local listings for exact times.  The documentary will be available online from August 5, 2014-September 3, 2014.  The movie trailer is available here.

“In June 2000, 14-year-old Kenneth Young was convinced by a 24-year-old neighborhood crack dealer — Kenneth’s mother’s supplier — to join him on a month-long spree of four armed robberies.  The older man planned the Tampa, Fla. heists and brandished the pistol — and, on one occasion, he was talked out of raping one of the victims by his young partner.  Fortunately, no one was physically injured during the crimes, although the trauma that resulted was immeasurable.

When they were caught, Kenneth didn’t deny his part.  It was his first serious scrape with the law.  But at 15, he was tried under Florida law as an adult.  Astoundingly, he received four consecutive life sentences — guaranteeing that he would die in prison.  15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story follows the young African-American man’s battle for release, after more than 10 years of incarceration, much of it spent in solitary confinement.

The film is also a disturbing portrait of an extraordinary fact:  The United States is the only country in the world that condemns juveniles to life without parole.”

For more information on juveniles sentenced to life without parole in Indiana following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Miller v. Alabama, see this prior post that includes links to prior Indiana Law Blog posts.

The post 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story Premieres August 4, 2014 first appeared on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.


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Juvenile Justice Jeopardy

Marion County (Indianapolis) has begun using Juvenile Justice Jeopardy to teach children about the law, the juvenile justice system, the possible collateral consequences of their actions, school offenses, and how to interact with law enforcements with respect.  It is a computer game that made available by Strategies for Youth.

To see a glimpse of the game in action and some of the media coverage of the Marion County kick-off event, see WISH-TV, WTHR, and the Indianapolis Star.  The game is also used in Massachusetts, California, and other states.

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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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