SEA 85 — School Resource Officers

SEA 85 amends, in part, IC 20-26-18.2-1, which defines a school resource officer and modifies the training requirements.  The amendments become effective July 1, 2014.

A “school resource officer” means, in part, an individual who is:

(A) employed by a law enforcement agency;

(B) appointed as a police reserve officer or as a special deputy if the police reserve officer or special duty: (i) is subject to the direction of the sheriff or appointing law enforcement agency; (ii) is required to obey the rules and orders of the sheriff’s department or appointing law enforcement agency; (iii) is required to complete all training required of regular full-time law enforcement officers employed by the sheriff’s department or appointing law enforcement agency; and (iv) may be removed by the sheriff or appointing law enforcement agency at any time, with or without cause; or

(C)  a school corporation police officer appointed under IC 20-26-16-3.

Before being appointed as a school resource officer, an individual must have:

  1. successfully completed the minimum training requirements established for law enforcement officers under IC 5-2-1-9; and
  2. received at least forty (40) hours of school resource officer training through: (A) the Indiana law enforcement training board established by IC 5-2-1-3; (B) the National Association of School Resource Officers; or (C) another school resource officer training program approved by the Indiana law enforcement training board.

This increasing merging of school resource officer with law enforcement will likely result in increased legal challenges to actions by school resource officers, such as searches, seizures, and interrogations.

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Limiting Access to Certain Court Records — SEA 19

IC 31-39 details at length the wide variety of juvenile court records that are available to various people and entities with or without a court order.  SEA 19 modifies the access statutes to exclude “records involving proceedings that pretain to: (A) paternity issues; (B) custody issues; (C) parenting time issues; or (D) child support issues; concerning a child born to parents who are not married to each other.”

Without comment as to whether this law is necessary or appropriate, it is interesting that when considering changes to the confidentiality statutes, the legislature chose to focus first on unmarried parents and their children, rather than juvenile delinquents.  Given the evolving case law and research that notes the immaturity and brain development issues that help lead children to juvenile court involvement and the collateral consequences of that involvement, it would be appropriate for legislators to shield more juvenile delinquency records from the public gaze.

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Juvenile Offenders are Often Juvenile Victims Too — Rethinking Juvenile Justice

The National Juvenile Justice Network has published A House Divided No More: Common Cause for Juvenile Justice Advocates, Victim Advocates, and Communities, which details research that many juvenile offenders are also victims of crime.  The paper calls for a broader discussion between juvenile justice advocates and victim advocates in order to bring about true change in the juvenile justice system.  Of note is that “one study of over 5,000 youth found that youth who are victims of a violent offense were three times more likely to commit a violent offense in the next twelve months than those who were not victims of violent crime (52 percent compared to 17 percent).  Youth who are harmed by crime are at greater risk of drug or alcohol use and abuse, depression, mental health issues, doing poorly in school, unplanned pregnancy, and suicide.”

The paper also echos the calls for a breakdown in the barrier between the treatment of children in the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system, as discussed in this earlier post, What Needs to Change?.  Many children end up touching both systems along their growth to adulthood (so-called crossover youth) and the system services should be available to any youth in the juvenile court whether classified as a delinquent or a CHINS.

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What Needs to Change?

I was asked for an interview what changes I think need to be made to the juvenile justice system.  Two things, in broad terms:  we need to look at these children as what they often are — crossover youth — and we need to devote more resources to the system.

The juvenile court has two parts: children in need of services (CHINS) and juvenile delinquents.  In general, the focus of a CHINS case is rehabilitating the parents to provide a safe and stable environment for the child.  The focus of the juvenile delinquency (JD) case is to rehabilitate the child to stop committing acts that would be crimes if committed by an adult or status offenses, such as runaway or truancy.  For many children in the system, they are both CHINS and delinquents — crossover youth.  Now, there are artificial barriers put in place to deal with these crossover youth.  In a CHINS case, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) coordinates the services that are supplied.  In a delinquency case, it is often a probation officer, but DCS still controls the funding stream in many cases.  Some services contracted through DCS are largely available to CHINS families and not to JD families.  It is becoming increasingly apparent through research and experience that all of the players should sit at the table and put together a comprehensive plan for the family that holds both the parent and the child accountable for participating in court-ordered services.  Too often, in JD cases, the parents are not held accountable for violations of the court’s parental participation order.  Too often, a child who is coming off the rails is not the focus of rehabilitative services in a CHINS case.  We can and must do better to work together to offer a safety net for these children.

The second issue is resources, which means both access to needed services and the money to pay for the services  Especially in rural counties across the state, there can be little available in both the county of residence and the region.  Even if a service provider has been awarded a DCS contract to provide rehabilitative services, they may not offer the services because of a lack of qualified staff or low enrollment numbers.  Funding for services for parents and children in juvenile court come from a myriad of sources:  the federal, state, and local government; private insurers; not-for-profit charities, etc.  Too often, Marion County is chosen as the one and only pilot site to try new and innovative services and receive the funding that comes with it.  The rest of the state just gazes from afar and hopes for better for their children.

Either we are going to commit to doing better for our children or we are going to continue to watch in horror as cases like Paul Henry Gingerich, the Elkhart 4, and Simeon Adams continue to unfold across the state.


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300th Follower!

Thank you to “Rebecca” for being the 300th follower of the blog!  Another milestone reached.

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Georgetown Diversion Certificate Program

The Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform will be accepting applications for the Diversion Certificate Program until May 30, 2014.  The goal of the program is to “bring together individuals and teams of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, probation staff and other local leaders who are committed to strengthening their diversion efforts.”  The program “is designed for public and private sector leaders working in the juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, education and other related systems of care that serve juvenile justice involved youth.”

The Diversion Certificate Program is one part of an overall goal to promote a juvenile justice system that: (1) is comprehensive and collaborative, (2) is balanced around public safety, offender accountability and competency development, (3) is trauma-informed, (4) uses the least-restrictive option that is necessary for the safety of the youth and the community, (5) is community-based, (6) is individualized and developmentally appropriate, (7) engages families and communities, and (8) is outcome-driven.


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Less Direct File Cases After HEA 1006 Implementation

Effective July 1, 2014, perhaps the legislative change with the biggest impact on some children was deep within HEA 1006, the criminal code reform bill, which revises IC 31-30-1-4, the so-called “direct file” statute.  Under the amended law, the juvenile court will now assume jurisdiction over a child for an alleged violation of:

  1. Criminal gang activity at IC 35-45-9-3,
  2. Criminal gang intimidation at IC 35-45-9-4,
  3. Manufacturing or dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug at IC 35-48-4-1 with a prior adjudication or conviction for the same act,
  4. Dealing in methamphetamine at IC 35-48-4-1.1 with a prior adjudication or conviction for the same act,
  5. Dealing in a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance at IC 35-48-4-2 with a prior adjudication or conviction for the same act, and
  6. Dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance at IC 35-48-4-3 with a prior adjudication or conviction for the same act.

Prior to July 1, 2014, these crimes would put a child’s case in criminal court.

The allegations that will still be direct file offenses to criminal court with no juvenile court jurisdiction, pursuant to IC 31-30-1-4, if the child is at least sixteen (16) years of age, will be:

  1. Murder at IC 35-42-1-1,
  2. Kidnapping at IC 35-42-3-2,
  3. Rape at IC 35-42-4-1,
  4. Robbery if committed with a deadly weapon or that results in bodily injury or serious bodily injury at IC 35-42-5-1,
  5. Carrying a handgun without a license as a felony at IC 35-47-2-1,
  6. Children and firearms as a felony at IC 35-47-10, and
  7. Dealing in a sawed-off shotgun at IC 35-47-5-4.1.
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