Focusing on the Basics — Policy and Purpose of Juvenile Court

Sometimes to refocus, one has to go back to the basics — why we do what we do in juvenile court, as stated at I.C. 31-10-2-1:

It is the policy of this state [Indiana] and the purpose of this title [the juvenile code] to:

(1) recognize the importance of family and children in our society;

(2) recognize the responsibility of the state to enhance the viability of children and family in our society;

(3) acknowledge the responsibility each person owes to the other;

(4) strengthen family life by assisting parents to fulfill their parental obligations;

(5) ensure that children within the juvenile justice system are treated as persons in need of care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation;

(6) remove children from families only when it is in the child’s best interest or in the best interest of public safety;

(7) provide for adoption as a viable permanency plan for children who are adjudicated children in need of services;

(8) provide a juvenile justice system that protects the public by enforcing the legal obligations that children have to society and society has to children;

(9) use diversionary programs when appropriate;

(10) provide a judicial procedure that: (A) ensures fair hearings; (B) recognizes and enforces the legal rights of children and their parents; and (C) recognizes and enforces the accountability of children and parents;

(11) promote public safety and individual accountability by the imposition of appropriate sanctions; and

(12) provide a continuum of services developed in a cooperative effort by local governments and the state.

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