Indiana is among 39 states who draw status offenders into the juvenile justice system for committing such non-criminal acts as truancy, running away form home, violating curfew laws, and drinking alcohol. There is a growing movement nationally to encourage those states to: (1) reevaluate whether status offenders should be categorized as juvenile delinquents at all, (2) increase diversion options out of the juvenile justice system, and (3) increase community-based resources for the juveniles and their families.
One key focus is whether any children should be placed at the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) — the most restrictive, serious consequence available to the juvenile court — for truancy or runaway after violating a written warning of consequences given by the juvenile court judge. According to DOC statistics, as of April 2014, two children have been placed at DOC for truancy and none for runaway in 2014.
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice has released multiple resources concerning status offenders, which are available here, including Making the Case for Status Offense Systems Change: A Toolkit. Additional resources are available through the Coalition’s Safety, Opportunity & Success: Standards of Care for Non-Delinquent Youth.