All participants of the juvenile court system must be aware of the collateral consequences of juvenile adjudications. Focusing on education, many of our low-income children and those who have been placed in foster care have enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program, which provides up to four years of paid tuition at Indiana universities and colleges.
Once accepted into the program, the child must take a pledge:
- Graduate with an Indiana High School Diploma from a state-accredited high school.
- Participate in the Scholar Success Program that helps them plan, prepare and pay for college success.
- Achieve a cumulative high school Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
- Not use illegal drugs or alcohol, or commit a crime or delinquent act.
- Apply for college admission and financial aid as a high school senior.
Once the program administrators receive written notice of a violation of the pledge, the child may be removed from the program. Notice may also come from the child’s school. If there is a violation, there is an appeal process that may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
With so much at risk for children facing juvenile adjudications, the assigned prosecutor, defense attorney (if there is one), and probation officer, must strive to be aware of the child’s enrollment in the 21st Century Scholars program, as part of the overall information about the child available to the court. With this knowledge, the participants can try to work creatively to keep the child in the scholarship program, when appropriate. Even if the juvenile court judge has authorized the filing of a petition alleging delinquency, the court has the ability to rescind the approval (discussed recently in State v. I.T.).
Rescinding the petition approval does not require that the case have no further intervention. It is still possible for the child to be referred to teen courts, substance abuse intervention programs, counseling, and many other options in the community. But, this informal path would ensure that there is no adjudication on his/her juvenile record, and may protect the child’s access to the scholarship programs.
Part of the rehabilitative goal of the juvenile court must be to consider the collateral consequences of juvenile court involvement, such as the long-term impact of losing access to a “full-ride” college scholarship.