As the new year begins, here are the hopes for 2015:
- That anti-shackling legislation continues to spread around the country, including here in Indiana, which would allow detained children to appear without shackles during court hearings unless the judge has made a specific finding that shackles are necessary to protect the child and/or the community.
- That money will continue to be diverted away from secure detention to community programs, such as day reporting, evening reporting, increased access to counseling, therapeutic foster care beds, and many, many more programs. There is a such a dearth of programs in rural communities, but some counties and regions are coming up with creative solutions that can be jumping off points for other communities. States such as Illinois and Ohio have formally created financial diversion programs that can be shared by all counties, not just the most populous, that should also be considered.
- There must be an increase in undergraduate programs and recruiting efforts for juvenile-focused social workers and substance abuse counselors, and graduate programs for child psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in order to meet the needs throughout the juvenile justice system.
- That adolescent competency statutes will be enacted in all states, including here in Indiana, to put forth a variety of diversion paths for children who are in the juvenile justice system due to mental health issues.
- That every child has an attorney to explain the juvenile delinquency system to him or her and what an attorney can do to assist the child, even if the child later waives the right to counsel after the advisement of rights.
- That no status offenders will be placed at the Department of Correction for violation of a court order.
- That there will be increased flexibility to move a child between the delinquency system and the CHINS system when it becomes obvious that the child’s alleged delinquent behavior is the smallest part of the child’s story. In the alternative, that there is a new juvenile court category for crossover youth who would no longer be subject to simultaneous CHINS and delinquency cases, but rather the needs of the family and child would be addressed in one single court case.
- That there are increased opportunities for all of us in the juvenile system to learn from others about new programs and developments, whether here in Indiana or nationally.
Let’s see where we go…