Juvenile Justice Reform

52 YEARS AFTER IN RE GAULT, THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM CONTINUES TO EVOLVE IN WAYS ADDRESSING THE UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES OF CHILDREN AND, ULTIMATELY, HOW STATES CAN FULFILL THE GOAL OF REHABILITATION AS OPPOSED TO PUNISHMENT.

TRUANCY

Colorado, Maryland, Utah, and Washington all enacted legislation or legislative reform surrounding truancy laws. All of the states moved to modifying truancy related offenses, ensuring the least restrictive dispositions possible. Washington went further, requiring school districts to collect data on truancy to address causes and focus on prevention.

TRANSFER/WAIVER

In 2018, Arizona, California, Missouri, and Washington all expanded the jurisdiction of their juvenile courts. While Arizona and Missouri increased the age of the court’s jurisdiction (19 and 18, respectively) California prohibits the transfer of children under the age of 16 to adult court. Washington put the focus on types of crimes where transfer to adult criminal court would be prohibited. Delaware passed related legislation, mandating that children charged in adult criminal court still be detained in a juvenile facility.

RESTRAINTS

Oklahoma and Louisiana put significant restrictions on when restraints can be used on minors.  Oklahoma prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant juveniles;  Louisiana requires that less restrictive measures be used in all circumstances when appropriate.

DIVERSION

Delaware and Florida both passed legislation giving law enforcement broader discretion in using diversion programs for both prearrest and misdemeanor -level offenses. Both states note that participation in counseling treatment, community service, or any other appropriate intervention has a positive effect on the justice system in general

RIGHT TO COUNSEL

Oklahoma now requires children to be represented by counsel from the first initial hearing all the way through completion/dismissal

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