Procedural Justice — Building a Better Experience in Court

Rather than focusing only on the outcome of a juvenile delinquency case, what if the focus was also on the perceived fairness of the process?  The theory of procedural fairness or procedural justice relies on the premise that a person will regard the justice system more favorably if they believe that the process was fair, regardless of the outcome.  Several factors are involved:

  1. Voice — Was the child’s side of the story heard?
  2. Respect — Was the child treated with dignity and respect?
  3. Neutrality — Was the decision-making process unbiased and trustworthy?
  4. Understanding — Did the child understand the process and how decisions were made?
  5. Helpfulness — Did the court participants show interest in the child’s personal situation, to the extent allowed?

See The Case for Procedural Justice: Fairness as a Crime Prevention Tool, U.S. Department of Justice COPS e-newsletter (September 2013).

The article notes the work of Prof. Tom Tyler from Yale Law School, who writes and lectures extensively on this topic.  At a presentation at the National Juvenile Defender Center Leadership Summit on October 25, 2014, Prof. Tyler stated that procedural fairness can impact the child’s self-esteem and that juveniles can be especially influenced by the impression of fairness.  Research has shown that a sense of unfairness has been linked to future criminal behavior.

The Center for Court Innovation has a wealth of information about procedural justice, including interview instruments and courtroom communication protocols.

Procedural Fairness for Judges and Courts includes court implementation tools, research, resources, and a blog.

Posted in Court Proceedings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Graphic Novels to Education Inmates About Reporting Abuse

The American University Washington College of Law, Project on Addressing Prison Rape, in partnership with Ford and Youth Justice Press, has published a number of graph novels to educate inmates, all of which are available here.

Sam Survives is the latest publication and is aimed at “male youthful inmates and discusses their exposure to sexual abuse in an adult correctional settings.”  Other graphic novels for those in adult settings include:

  • I Reported, which focuses on gender non-conforming inmates
  • Don’t Touch Me for male inmates
  • The Barter for female inmates

For juveniles in residential settings, there are:

  • Billy Speaks Out for males from ages 14-18
  • Shelia’s Dilemma for females from ages 14-18
  • Carlo’s Question for sexual minority youth
  • Mary’s Friend for females from ages 10-13
  • Charlie’s Report for males from ages 10-13

For workers in juvenile settings, there is Addressing Sexual Violence Against Youth in Custody: A Handbook for Youth Workers on How to Identify and Address Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Settings by Brenda V. Smith and Jaime M. Yarussi (May 2012).

See also these previous posts:




Posted in PREA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t Delinquents Access DCS Specialists?

At the last three or four Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) regional services council meetings for region 12, Judge Mary G. Willis — voicing her own concerns and those of the probation officers present but unable to participate due to statutory council membership limitations — has asked that DCS policy be modified to allow access to DCS specialists.  These specialists are available for CHINS (children in need of services) in complex cases, but not for juvenile delinquents.  Many of these delinquent children face the same challenges, and are all too often former CHINS.

Beginning in 2011, DCS “create[d] a number of specialized positions…. These employees … provide subject matter expertise and serve as an invaluable resource to field staff in navigating challenging issues and barriers to child well-being and permanency in areas such as behavioral health, medical, education, and parent locating.”  (State of Indiana Annual Progress and Services Report, p. 8-9)

  • Clinical Services Specialists are licensed mental health professionals to address case planning and service coordination support for cases involving mental health issues, including substance abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence.
  • Education Specialists “ensure foster children receive the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school, and in life.”
  • Nurses to “ensure all children [] receive the medical and dental care they need and deserve.”
  • Parent/Relative Locate Investigators attempt to locate parents and extended family, who in some cases may become guardians or custodians of the child.

There was a brief period of hope, when DCS reportedly was considering a pilot program for region 12 to allow access to these specialists.  However, it was announced at the October 20, 2014 regional services council meeting that the request for the pilot program had been denied.

Why is there a continuing division in the way we treat our children who need access to services?  If DCS is going to continue to hold the purse strings to the money entrusted to it by the State of Indiana for the care of our children (both CHINS and delinquents), why can’t all children in need of services be given access?

If any argument is being made that there is not enough money to hire additional specialists to handle the needs of delinquent children, consider this editorial, Penny-Pinching at DCS Keeps Money from Kids, published on October 18, 2014, which noted that “[i]n the last fiscal year, [DCS] reverted more than $4 million earmarked for child protective services.  In 2013, about $3.8 million went unspent.  The figures represent a small percentage of the agency’s $550-million-plus budget…”

Posted in CHINS, Disposition | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code Recommendations for 2015 Legislative Session

The Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code published the minutes from the October 6, 2014 meeting, which included several recommendations related to juvenile law:

  1. That legislation be filed in the next session requiring that the interrogation of juveniles by law enforcement be recorded, but not by school administrators.
  2. Funding be made available to implement the mandatory appointment of counsel in juvenile cases.
  3. The General Assembly needs to address the range of ages in juvenile waiver statutes and that the Criminal Justice Institute or the Division of Court Administration should collect data concerning the number of direct file charges of juveniles in adult court.
  4. That status offenders should not be housed in the Indiana Department of Correction

The Committee also voted in favor of a recommendation that children should not be shackled in court umless the court has found that it is necessary for a specific child, but the recommendation failed because a majority of the total number of appointed Committee members did not approve of the recommendation.

To see the proposed statutes that were discussed, go here.

This blogger would like to thank the Committee for their willingness to hear a wide range of testimony and to consider the proposed statutes related to juvenile justice.  It was inspiring.  Now the real work will begin as the legislative session begins.

Posted in Anti-Shackling, Confessions, Law Enforcement, Legislation, Right to Counsel, Status Offenders, Waiver/Transfer | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Broken Promise of Brown” Harris Lecture by Julian Bond

On October 15, 2014, Julian Bond presented the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Harris Lecture, “The Broken Promise of Brown,” recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision.  Video is available here.

Julian Bond was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a past president of the NAACP, as well as a state legislator and educator.

Brown v. Board of Education abolished the policy of “separate, but equal” that allowed segregated schools across the country.  For a history of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, go here.

Posted in Education, Schools/Education | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Screening and Assessment of Youth in Confinement Webinar

On October 22, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. ET, a webinar “Screening and Assessment of Youth in Confinement” will be presented by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) with the OJJDP National Center for Youth in Custody.  “The systemic use of screening and assessment tools or instruments at key decision points in the juvenile justice system can provide information that is critical for diverting youth who do not belong in confinement to more appropriate services and placements.  Screening and assessment tools can also help confinement staff understand how to best serve youth for whom confinement is required.  This webinar will address the purpose of screening and assessment and discuss issues related to appropriate, responsible sharing and use of information obtained from these tools.”  To register, go here.

This topic is also discussed as part of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) which evaluates the conditions of confinement as part of the overall JDAI process.  For an overview of the evaluation of conditions of confinement, including tools and resources, go here.

For information about the inspections of Indiana detention centers, go here.  (Note, no 2014 inspections have been posted as of the time of this posting.)

Posted in Detention, DOC | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Impacting Our Kids’ Self-Image

I keep mulling over this quote:

“As a child he [Channing Tatum] struggled with A.D.H.D. and dyslexia, was prescribed stimulants and did poorly in school. “I have never considered myself a very smart person, for a lot of reasons,” he says. “Not having early success on that one path messes with you. You get lumped in classes with kids with autism and Down Syndrome, and you look around and say, Okay, so this is where I’m at. Or you get put in the typical classes and you say, All right, I’m obviously not like these kids either. So you’re kind of nowhere. You’re just different. The system is broken. If we can streamline a multibillion-dollar company, we should be able to help kids who struggle the way I did.””  Rob Haskell, Channing Tatum: A Work in Progress, New York Times (October 14, 2014).

How often do we put children in different programs, classrooms, schools, etc., with the hope that maybe this one will work, but with no thought of how this move could impact the child’s self-image?  Do we think about the impact on self-image of parading a shackled child through a crowded courthouse?  Do we really do our homework to evaluate the child’s needs or just use default programs and services for every kid who comes in contact with the system?

There is work to be done.

Posted in Adolescent Development, Anti-Shackling, Disposition, Education, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Schools/Education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment