Kim Kilbride with the South Bend Tribune has written a detailed article about the practice of some South Bend school resource officers who write infraction tickets for Provocation pursuant to I.C. 35-42-2-3. In Ms. Kilbride’s investigation, the use of these infraction tickets was most common in the largest lower socioeconomic, predominately African-American school in the St. Joseph County.
The infraction tickets are handled in “adult” civil court because the juvenile court specifically does not have jurisdiction over infraction cases (I.C. 31-30-1-2(1)). Children who are cited into court for infraction cases routinely appear alongside adults charged with a variety of traffic-related and other infractions. The infractions come with court costs and possible fines.
The juvenile confidentiality laws do not apply to the infraction court appearance or the case in total. Therefore, the infraction history is open for anyone who searches for it.
Perhaps most troubling, for several years, if the infraction ticket was not paid, the information was submitted to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles for an indefinite suspension of the child’s driving privileges, including the ability to get a learner’s permit or driver’s license. However, this procedure is only proper for infraction tickets that are related to traffic offenses.
This investigation reveals yet another long-term impact of the choices of so many of our schools to use school resource officers and their authority to issue infraction tickets and arrest students, rather than depending upon the normal school disciplinary policy to address adolescent behaviors except in the most exceptional circumstances.