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Return Them to Juvenile Court, Rubin, 2007

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By H. TED RUBIN

1012 14TH ST. NW, SUITE 610, WASHINGTON DC 20005
PHONE: 202-558-3580

FAX: 202-386-9807

BECAUSE THE CONSEQUENCES AREN’T MINOR

POLICY BRIEF

ADULTIFICATION SERIES
VOLUME

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Return Them To Juvenile Court
by H. Ted Rubin

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This treatise supports an agenda that encourages
state legislators, executive and judicial branch officials, juvenile justice administrators, private providers,
and concerned citizens to return older and more seriously offending juveniles to the jurisdiction of the
juvenile court. It urges policy makers and policy
implementers to embrace the benefits that juvenile
courts have long provided. It calls for a renewed
emphasis on removing youth from the criminal justice
system and to discard or modify policy directives made
historically or in recent years that enable juvenile
offenders to be handled in criminal courts and serve
sentences in adult correctional institutions. It is centered on the definition of children and youth and the
determination of the most appropriate legal forum that
enhances the twin considerations of public safety and
the constructive futures of young people.

But, it is argued here, state juvenile justice systems
can best accomplish the accountability and punishment mandated for serious, chronic, and/or violent
juvenile offenders while also providing the spectrum
of needed interventions that have the greater probability of facilitating their constructive citizenship in the
future. Several illustrations of evidenced-based juvenile justice system interventions with these offenders
are provided. Many other successful programs targeting this population of juvenile offenders could be illustrated. It follows that funding proven and more comprehensive interventions within the juvenile justice
system is a cost-beneficial way to enhance public safety while reducing expenditures for long-term incarceration in the criminal justice system.

This discussion criticizes the punitive dimensions
of historic and recent policies that have placed juveniles in the criminal courts, while describing rationales that better fit society’s interests in strengthening
juveniles as youth rather that risking their futures and
society’s interests with their incarceration as criminals.
This paper does not ignore the fact that juveniles commit serious and violent offenses and that public safety
compels appropriate judicial sanctioning of these juveniles. It recognizes that juvenile court judges have
authority to hold deliberative proceedings to determine whether the juvenile court or the criminal court
is the more appropriate forum for sanctioning very
serious juvenile offenders.

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The Purposes of This Presentation

This

treatise supports an agenda that
encourages state legislators,
along with executive and judicial
branch officials, other juvenile justice officials, and
concerned citizens to, in effect, take back the juvenile
court. It urges that policy makers and policy implementers return to embrace or return to embrace the
benefits that juvenile courts have long provided in separating juveniles from adult criminalization, and to
discard or modify policy directives and re-directives,
made historically or in recent years, that enable juvenile offenders to be handled in criminal courts and
serve sentences in adult incarcerative facilities. It is
centered on the definition of juvenile status and the
determination of the most appropriate legal forum that
enhances the twin considerations of public safety and
the constructive futures of young people who violate
laws which, for adults, constitute a crime.
This presentation has been prepared in support of
efforts that are in process or to be undertaken in several states that aim at raising the current maximum
statutory age that defines eligibility for juvenile court
handling, as based on legislative requirements that had
been mandated years ago or more recently. It has been
prepared in support of related efforts in states where
age changes have been statutorily enacted, particularly during the past 20-25 years, which have determined
when a criminal court shall or may obtain jurisdiction
over a juvenile offender, in concert with mechanisms
that can trigger avoidance of a juvenile court or presume juvenile court handling is inappropriate.
This presentation criticizes the punitive dimensions of historic and recent policies that have placed
juveniles in the criminal context, while describing

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rationales that better fit society’s interests in strengthening juveniles as youth rather that risking their
futures and society’s interests with their criminal
incarceration. This paper does not ignore the fact that
juveniles do commit violent and very grave crimes and
that the public interest compels serious judicial sanctioning of juveniles who perpetrate such abuses.
But, it is argued here, state juvenile justice systems
can best accomplish, for the substantial majority of
older, serious juvenile offenders, the accountability
and, indeed, the punishment their offenses merit,
while also providing the spectrum of needed interventions that have the greater probability of facilitating
their constructive citizenship in the future. Several
illustrations of successful juvenile justice system interventions with serious juvenile offenders, retained
within the juvenile justice system, are provided. Many
others could be illustrated.
It follows that the funding of effective and more
comprehensive juvenile interventions is a cost-beneficial way to reduce the public expenditures necessitated by long-term imprisonments.
This exposition has been prepared by a writer who
has been a state legislator, a full-time juvenile court
judge, one who has worked directly with juvenile
offenders and managed programmatic interventions
aimed at their rehabilitation, had directed or co-directed training programs for juvenile justice personnel for
two decades, has evaluated onsite more than 300 juvenile and family courts and justice systems, and whose
five books are directed at juvenile justice policies,
practices, programs, and law.

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NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF THE REVISED PUBLIC POLICY

rehabilitative stratagems during their stays.

An expansive number of individuals and organizations now believe that the punitive redirection to criminalize juvenile offenders has been excessive and much
of it counter-productive. They do not trivialize their
concern or the public’s concern over serious juvenile
crime. But they contend the juvenile justice system
demonstrates effective capability to protect public
safety and to provide fundamental accountability and
positive interventions for the great bulk of serious and
repetitive juvenile offenders.

A further criticism emphasizes quantitative
re s e a rch studies that have found that juveniles
handled in juvenile courts who have similar offense
records and offenses as comparable juveniles handled
in criminal courts in other states, in fact reoffend less
often, less speedily, and less severely.

Their criticisms regarding what can be termed the
over-criminalization of juveniles have many facets.
One criticism emphasizes society’s failure to recognize
and productively counter youthful immaturity with
interventions, far more available in the juvenile system, which provides hope for a positive turn around.
A striking criticism stresses the failure to recognize
scientific brain research that finds juvenile brain development is often incomplete at the time an offense is
committed, and that judgment is impaired in suppressing impulses and in understanding the consequences of one’s law violations. Juveniles’ cognitive
and reasoning abilities are less mature than those of
adults, and they should be held less culpable than
adults for offenses they commit.ii
A criticism emphasizes the harms done by juveniles who are incarcerated in jails and prisons, such as
advanced crime lessons taught them as well as their
victimizations by adult criminals. Another criticism
emphasizes the cruel length of many of their sentences
and the failure of prison systems to provide successful

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A criticism emphasizes the expedited tempo of
juvenile court case resolution compared with the slow
tempo of criminal court case resolution, together with
the briefer pre-disposition lock-up time, and the
speedier insertion of community control and rehabilitative stratagems that the juvenile system invokes.
Still another criticism emphasizes the fundamentally unchecked authority frequently granted
prosecutors to determine, often in a few minutes,
whether a juvenile offender should be prosecuted in a
criminal rather than a juvenile court. This practice is
viewed as vastly inferior to the traditional approach,
now slighted, of having a careful in-court review and
consideration of both legal and social facts made by a
juvenile court judge before a transfer or waiver
decision is made.
Another criticism emphasizes, as well, the disproportionate criminal justice system contacts and
confinements of minority youths, which is characteristic of the juvenile justice system also. However, the
juvenile justice system, mandated for more than a
decade by the US Congress to reduce this disparity, has
been actively engaged in numerous approaches to curb
minority overrepresentation.

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PROVISIONS THAT ENABLE CRIMINAL COURT HANDLING
OF JUVENILES

Historically, diff e rent states have set diff e rent
upper ages for juvenile court handling. Today, any
offense committed after one’s 18th birthday is a criminal offense in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
In ten states juvenile court jurisdiction ends on the
day before one’s 17th birthday and in three, this jurisdiction ends on the day before one’s 16th birthday.
Obviously this maximum age is not uniform. Nor are
the state statutory provisions uniform that enable bypassing a juvenile court and provide for criminal court
authority over juveniles.
Data are typically not collected in the states as to
the numbers of juveniles under 18 years of age who are
brought into a state’s criminal court jurisdiction. Very
likely, Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina file
the most criminal court cases against juveniles as
youth become adults there, as to their offenses, on
their 16th birthdays. Likely, the ten states where
youths become adults on their 17th birthdays…
Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and
Wisconsin follow, though the extent of their comparative frequency is unknown.
There are three dominant methods for charging
juveniles in a criminal court:
(1) By the end of the 2004 legislative session,
29 states excluded certain offenses by young
offenders from the juvenile court. Known as

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statutory waiver, legislative waiver, or
statutory exclusion, these statutes specify
age as well as offense criteria for exclusion.
(2) At that session’s end, 15 states provided
for con current jurisdicti on, which allowed
prosecutors the discretion to file eligible cases
in eithe r juven ile or criminal co urt; th is
procedure is known as prosecutorial waiver,
prosecutor discretion, or direct file.
(As reported in the 2006 National Report on
Juvenile Offenders and Victims, assembled by
th e US Office of Juv en ile Justice and
Delinquency Prev en tion, prosecutors in
Florida, a state that has a broad concurrent
jurisdiction provision, sent more than 2000
youth to criminal court in fiscal year 2001.)iii
(3) Statutes allow juvenile court judges to
waive jurisdiction over certain cases filed
initially in juvenile court. The decision may be
strictly discretionary, may be based on a rebuttable presumption of waiver, or may be mandatory when certain statutory criteria have been
met. State statutes determine the minimum
age and the particular offenses
eligible for waiver, as well as the requirements
for the waiver proceeding. Data are collected in
this regard. In 1992, 11,782 juveniles were
waived by juvenile court judges, but fewer
than 6,000 youth were waived in 2000. These
data reflect the legislation and practice that
have eased the pathway to direct criminal
court handling. One metropolitan judge in a
state that emphasizes direct files stated to the

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author in March 2006 that she has not
conducted a waiver hearing in years
The most common minimum age specified as eligible for any of these mechanisms that lead to criminal
court handling is 14 years, though ten states allow a
younger age and 22 states and the District of Columbia
do not specify a minimum age.
Another criminalization mechanism authorizes
juvenile courts in 15 states to issue blended sentences,
i.e., both a juvenile disposition and an adult criminal
sentence. Typically the adult sentence is stayed, contingent on good behavior. In several of these states,
adult sentences are not authorized, but the juvenile
court sanction can extend beyond the age of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction to enable the sentence to begin
in a juvenile institution followed by time in an adult
prison.
The writer arranged to obtain juvenile criminalization data from Minnesota, a state that authorizes statutory exclusion of juveniles over 16 years charged with
murder, maintains a rebuttable presumption certification proceeding with certain juvenile court cases, and
authorizes a juvenile court judge to issue a blended
sentence. For the year 1999, 353 juveniles were
processed into state criminal courts, while 292 were
processed in 2000. During these two years, 14 youth
were filed on for homicide and another 10 for criminal
vehicle homicide. However, the most common offenses were assault, burglary, robbery, a sex offense, and
vehicle theft. Property offense filings exceeded person
injury filings. But one needs to ask why some youth,
charged with obscenity, with vehicle theft, with receiv-

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ing stolen property, or with larceny, could not have
been retained within juvenile jurisdiction. Further,
during those two years, 158 of the 302 youth who
entered a criminal court based on a violation of a
blended sentence and for whom identifying information had been recorded were Native American, AsianAmerican, or African-American. Minority overrepresentation with this procedure in this state should be
obvious.
New Mexico offers a unique variation…juvenile
court judges may enter “unblended” criminal court
sentences when particularized criteria have been met.
The statute enables these juvenile court judges, in certain cases, to sit as a judge with criminal sentencing
authority and enter an exclusively criminal sentence
upon a juvenile.
States that authorize juvenile court judges to enter
any form of criminal court sentence must provide a
jury trial option to this juvenile.

ALLEVIATING THE HARSHNESS OF CRIMINALIZATION
An early legislative waiver provision, enacted in
New York in 1978, exempted certain offending 13-15
year olds from family court handling and placed them
directly in criminal court. The law provided, however,
that under mitigating circumstances and with prosecutor concurrence, a juvenile could be “transferred
downward”, i.e., back to family court handling and
disposition. This was a harbinger of other “get tough”
legislative activity that was to follow, which allowed
for some moderation of this “toughness.”

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Today, 25 states provide authorization for a reverse
waiver hearing following a criminal court charge based
on statutory or prosecutorial waiver. This hearing
allows the juvenile to petition the criminal court and
seek to show amenability to rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system, while allowing a prosecutor to seek
to convince the judge that the criminal court proceeding constitutes the better use of judicial discretion.
Another blended sentencing authorization in
seven states is noteworthy, but the setting is the criminal court where this judge may issue two sentences, a
juvenile sentence and a separate criminal court sentence. When the former is initiated, a failure to comply with its conditions then leads to a further hearing
and an expected invocation of the criminal sanction.
A final blend authorizes criminal court judges in
ten states, following adjudication, to invoke a juvenile
disposition as an exclusive sentence.*

Where this jurisdictional proposal is not fully
accepted in a state, this reform route urges that direct
filing into a criminal court should be restricted to juveniles 16 years and older whose crimes, if committed by
an adult, would be only those punishable by life
imprisonment or death.
Three recent sets of policy directives substantiate
this reform target.
“Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines,” issued by
the prestigious National Council of Juvenile
and Family Court Judges in 2005, urge that all
juvenile crimes be initiated in a juvenile court.
For serious crimes, the juvenile court judge
should make a determination as to whether
the offender should remain within the court’s
jurisdiction or be waived/transferred to a criminal court for handling. “Waiver and transfer
to adult court should be rare and only after a
very thoroughly considered process.”

THE QUEST TO RE-JUVENALIZE JUSTICE
Those now engaged in reform efforts seek public
policy changes that would have all states authorize
juvenile court proceedings for all youth under 18 years
of age, allowing only limited exceptions. The exceptions would still begin all proceedings in a juvenile
court, subjecting only older youth who commit serious offenses to waiver or transfer hearings conducted
by the juvenile court judge to determine the best fit for
a certain youth and for society, juvenile court or criminal court.

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“A Blueprint for Juvenile Justice Reform,” published in 2005 by the Youth Transition Funders
Group comprised of 12 national foundations,
seeks to keep juveniles out of adult prisons.
The Group has examined research findings
that show very severe negative consequences
for juveniles held in adult incarceration compared with juveniles held in juvenile institutions. The blueprint comments that “studies
show that youth held in adult facilities are
eight times more likely to commit suicide, five
times more likely to report being a victim of

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rape, twice as likely to report being beaten by
staff and 50 percent more likely to be attacked
with a weapon. Youth sent to adult court also
return to crime at a higher rate. Equally unacceptable is the fact that youth of color are overrepresented in the ranks of juveniles being
referred to adult court compared to white
youth charged with the same categ ory of
offenses.”
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice [CJJ], a
national association that represents fifty-six
governor-appointed state juvenile justice advis o ry groups ,oppo ses trying and sente ncing
youth in adult criminal court, except in the
rare case of a chronic and violent offender, and
then only at the discretion of a juvenile court
judge. Under no circumstance does CJJ support sending a child younger than age 15 into
the adult system. CJJ also opposes giving prosecutors the authority to transfer youth to adult
court.”

JUVENILE COURTS WERE FORMED TO REMOVE YOUTH
COURTS AND ADULT JAILS AND PRISONS

FROM CRIMINAL

The 1899 Illinois legislature gave birth to this
nation’s first juvenile court by establishing the juvenile
court division of the Circuit Court for Cook County
(Chicago). This law removed children under 16 years
of age from the criminal court and the county’s 11
police courts, and from criminal sentencing statutes
that had resulted in their imprisonment with adult
o ffenders. Probation officers were authorized.

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Whenever practical, juveniles were to be maintained
in their family homes and family parenting capabilities
were to be strengthened.
This juvenile court’s creation inspired a rapid
movement to establish these courts across the land,
sometimes beginning in the larger cities and then
going statewide, as took place in Illinois and elsewhere. By 1924, every state but two had authorized
juvenile courts. They took various organizational
forms, sometimes a structurally separate court but
more often as a part of another trial court. Maximum
jurisdictional age differed also. The great bulk of states
enacted a maximum age of one’s 18th birthday; Illinois
was to add a year to its upper limit; other states
defined this court’s jurisdiction up to one’s 17th birthday while just three states have maintained the end of
this jurisdiction as one’s 16th birthday.
Juvenile codes have long authorized limited exceptions to this court’s jurisdiction. One exception has
been exclusive criminal court jurisdiction for juveniles
above a particularized age who have been charged, for
example, with an offense which, if committed by an
adult, could result in a sentence of life imprisonment
or death. Waiver hearings conducted by juvenile court
judges has been a long established and nearly universal exception. However, the past several decades have
seen a sweep of legislation that authorizes expansive
approaches to by-pass ongoing juvenile court jurisdiction.

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THE LEGALIZATION OF JUVENILE COURT PROCEDURES
Common to juvenile statute purpose clauses were
provisions to remove juveniles from their home environments only when their welfare or safety or the protection of the public would otherwise be endangered,
and if removed, to provide the necessary care, guidance, and discipline to facilitate one’s becoming a
responsible and productive member of society.
Juvenile courts, for decades, functioned largely
without critical commentary except perhaps for criticisms by law enforcement officials for what they perceived as lenient dispositions, from rehabilitative professionals for what they visualized as all too limited
treatment provisions, and by a small number of attorneys who decried the absence of regularized legal procedures and attorney representation of youths.
The juvenile court world changed markedly in
1966 and 1967 when the US Supreme Court took
expansive notice of its then shoddy legal procedures.
The 1966 Kent case mandated that juvenile court
waiver hearings must provide the “essentials of due
process and fair treatment”. State after state then proceeded to enact statutory guidelines for this hearing,
to include a finding of probable cause that the juvenile
had committed this offense and to base the decision on
up to ten findings such as one’s prior record, nature of
offense, impact on the victim(s), and rehabilitative
potential within the juvenile justice system.
The 1967 Gault decision had a volcanic impact. It
compelled requirements to provide written notice of

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law violation charges, to inform both a youth and parents of a juvenile’s right to counsel and free counsel,
ensured the application of the constitutional privilege
against self incrimination, and mandated the right to
cross examine witnesses who testified against the
child. State after state then updated their juvenile
statutes to incorporate these standards. Defense counsel began to appear far more frequently, and within a
few years juvenile prosecutors joined the cast.

RESPONSES TO THE NEW JUVENILE COURT
Legalization prompted a major review of another
dimension of the court’s jurisdiction known as “status
offenses”, a term that characterized offenses illegal
only for children. The status of childhood authorized
this jurisdiction for matters such as incorrigibility,
running away from home, school truancy, and curfew
violations. Juvenile court judges had long been able to
institutionalize status offenders in a similar fashion as
delinquents. However, states’ laws were altered with a
momentum that grew into a reform movement in the
1970s, and practices were changed almost universally
to distinguish status offenders from delinquent offenders and to prohibit the lockup of the former either pretrial or post-trial. The US Congress’s enactment of the
1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
barred such lock ups in states participating in the Act’s
grant provisions, which were virtually all states.
This separation of offending juveniles preceded
what was to follow…a heightened focus on delinquent
misconduct that led to more public criticism of the
perceived soft handling provisions of juvenile codes

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and juvenile court judges. The court’s rehabilitation
mission was increasingly seen as incongruous with the
serious offenses all too many juveniles committed.
State legislators and other public officials heard these
protests. A broad array of enactments authorized easier entry into criminal courts, while sometimes compelling greater juvenile court use of mandatory sentences and lengthier institutional time.
The cry, if they do the crime they should do the
time, resonated widely. The long-term dominant practice of centering the waiver decision in a juvenile court
judge atrophied.
But all too few have questioned the effectiveness of
criminal court handling of offenders, adult or juvenile.
All too few have held concerns that adult recidivism
was consistently reported as extremely high. Much of
the citizenry has passively accepted that criminalization of juveniles has furthered public safety. Getting
these youngsters off the streets and, often, for long
imprisonments with little more bothered all too few.
And all too few have thought deeply enough whether
criminalized juveniles in time return to society better
able to conform to legal norms. In fact, many do not.
The juvenile system’s strength, despite myriad
shortcomings, has been its commitment to help juveniles through adolescence by furthering their self control abilities and positive attributes. lts practices have
been tightened in many ways that will be described
below. With its regularized application of controls, it
still provides breathing room that furthers constructive youth development. Public safety is a cardinal
principle.

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This treatise will next prescribe the fundamentals
of juvenile court/justice system tenets and practices.
Then, it will proceed to illustrate an array of examples
that show its ability to effectively manage more serious
and chronic juvenile offenders. On these foundations,
juvenile justice can absorb many of the juveniles who
now are handled in a criminal court.

BASICS OF TODAY’S JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Judges of juvenile courts are law trained. Some
maintain a long-term assignment; others rotate to a
different bench after serving a stint such as two years.
Many earlier practiced law in this forum as magistrates, prosecutors, defense attorneys, or lawyers representing delinquent youth or children or parents in
the court’s jurisdiction over dependent, neglected, or
abused children. These judges frequently use their
positions to publicly advocate for expanded and
improved intervention services for juvenile court
youth. They recognize that their experience and
expertise can be helpful to policy makers as well as
parents who seek ways to help young people deal successfully with their adolescence.
Prosecutors are prominent functionaries here .
Many have become career juvenile prosecutors, while
others gain important experience and are then transferred to a felony court role. Many go beyond their
responsibilities to protect public safety, ensure juvenile
accountability, and protect victims’ rights and the
restoration of the harms done them to further the
effectiveness of the juvenile justice system. They want

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programs that are applied with juveniles to work well.
They may publicly urge that interventions not now in
place but which are regarded well elsewhere be entered
into place in their jurisdiction.
Generally, prosecutors maintain responsibility to
determine whether an alleged felony offense (and in
some jurisdictions a misdemeanor offense) shall be
formally petitioned to court or handled, assuming a
conviction probability, through diversion to a probation or community agency that arranges accountability stratagems and youth or family service interventions.
Defense lawyers constitute a vital dimension of
this justice system. Juveniles must be informed of their
right to counsel. Appointment of counsel for otherwise unrepresented youth is mandatory in some jurisdictions. Counsel may be public defenders, court
appointed privately practicing lawyers, or contract
attorneys. Plea and sentence bargaining, which
involves defense and prosecution counsel, often probation staff, and judicial review occurs commonly in
juvenile courts.
Victim-witness assistants are most often employed
by prosecution offices, and serve functions similar to
such assistants in criminal courts. They facilitate victim services, victim or witness notifications regarding
court proceedings, victim impact statements that are
brought to judicial attention, and orders of restitution.
.
Professional court administrators, specialized in
larger juvenile courts or district administrators for the
various courts in a district, manage juvenile court
budgets and along with court clerks are responsible for

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caseflow management here. Juvenile codes or rules of
juvenile procedure provide processing time standards
or guidelines that help ensure timely case processing
decisions, sanctioning, and community-based interventions or residential placements.
Pretrial juvenile detention holding centers characterize the juvenile system. Commonly in place today,
also, are validated risk assessment instruments that
evaluate a referred offender’s need to be held in secure
custody pending judicial action. Juveniles who do not
appear to need secure custody are released to parents
(in some jurisdictions under a form of bond), placed
on electronic monitoring, “tracked” by staff monitors,
and/or required to participate in a detention alternative program.
Detained juveniles receive judicial detention hearings within 24-72 hours of admission which results in
release, release to an alternative care facility or otherwise under certain control conditions, or retention
until a further hearing such as arraignment. Juveniles
may be held in confinement until adjudication and a
disposition have been completed.
Because juvenile detention centers are far safer
places than jails for juveniles, the federal delinquency
act bars states from locking juvenile court juveniles in
jails unless there is “sight and sound” separation from
adult prisoners.
Probation officers have grown up with the juvenile
court and fulfill numerous important roles. They are
college graduates who have majored in criminal justice, social work, psychology, education, and other

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subject areas, not infrequently hold graduate degrees,
and often had work experiences with youth before taking these positions. Typically they are employees of the
court or of a state or local governmental executive
agency. They participate in ongoing in-service training
locally as well as state and national training opportunities. They are guided by official manuals that direct
their procedures and practices.
Probation officers may serve as intake officers
who, authorized by statute or prosecutor, determine
whether complaints about youthful offending should
be formally petitioned or may be diverted to informal
handling based on agreements that require law-conforming behavior and, as fitting, community service or
monetary restitution.
Pre-disposition reports are prepared for a judge’s
disposition following plea entry or a finding the
referred offense was committed. In different courts
these may be prepared by intake officers, by probation
staff investigators, or by a field probation officer. These
reports enable a judge to be informed of a youth’s prior
criminal offense record, present competencies and
deficiencies, school and community accomplishments,
drug abuse concerns, family issues, risks and needs,
and alternative dispositional programs that appear
viable or necessary.
The field probation officer has primary responsibility for monitoring an adjudicated youth’s behavior,
compliance with probation conditions and use of
needed resources such as substance abuse treatment,
mental health counseling, mentoring, or other rehabilitation enhancing interventions.

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Finally, juvenile courts rely on an array of community agency services for court youth, on residential
treatment programs, and on state institutional commitments. All of these adjuncts are available to juvenile courts, though of course the depth of program
availability varies.

ONE MORE BASIC: BALANCED AND RESTORATIVE
JUSTICE
Juvenile justice systems have embraced Balanced
and Restorative Justice (BARJ) for more than a decade.
Its triad of fundamentals, public safety, juvenile
accountability, and juvenile competency development
hallmark numerous juvenile codes and juvenile justice
systems. Accompanying emphases include victim
restoration, opportunities for mediated meetings
between victims and offenders, community participation to help ensure these fundamentals are applied
effectively, and instruction with a victim impact curriculum that is, however, not universalized. Universal
p rovisions, however, are victim restitution that
includes monetary payments to reimburse victims’
losses or damages, as well as community service hours
performed by juveniles to reimburse the community
for the injury to its quality of life.
Monetary restitution obligations represent a format for holding juveniles accountable; community
service work represents a format that constitutes both
accountability and competency development, e.g.,
increasing one’s skills and responsible work habits.

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The BARJ principle is that crime causes harm and
the justice system should be held responsible for
repairing this harm to the extent this is feasible.
Nationally, juvenile justice systems have collected and
reimbursed millions of dollars to victims and have
reimbursed communities even greater sums, based on
the number of hours of work service performed multiplied by the minimum wage, through community service requirements.
A number of juvenile justice systems extend juveniles’ restitution and community service requirements,
when not yet completed, into their institutional placements when they are ordered into private or stateoperated residential programs. There, program staff is
to facilitate juveniles’ earning opportunities and performance of mandated work hours. Juvenile parole
agencies are responsible for overseeing the completion
of any still owing BARJ duties following return to the
community.
A few examples of community service work in
Pennsylvania include participation on a crime repair
crew in Philadelphia that restores damage to victims’
stores or homes, a work crew that continuously helps
with the maintenance of the Valley Forge National
Historical Park, and court youths doing the bulk of the
work to maintain a community recycling center.
A new, promising development is a juvenile justice
system’s promulgation of a report card to the community that reports on its implementation of juvenile justice system objectives. Pioneered in Deschutes County,
Oregon, with current replications taking place in Cook

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County (Chicago), Illinois, in Allegheny County
( P i t t s b u rgh), Pennsylvania, and by the state
Department of Juvenile Justice in South Carolina, a
report card provides numbers on restitution dollars
and community service hours ordered and performed,
victim surveys of satisfaction with court handling,
school participation by probationers, recidivism,
investments in crime prevention, and citizen volunteer
hours assisting youth. They are being distributed
widely, for example, as an annual insert in the local
newspaper.
Deschutes County has obtained noteworthy attention for its competency development programs. For
example, volunteers assist delinquent youth who continue to carry primary responsibility for the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes there; a second
benefit is that competency development skills
obtained have enabled construction jobs for some of
these youth.
The American Prosecutors Research Institute now
carries primary responsibility for the enrollment of
additional juvenile justice systems in this report card
accountability program.

EXAMPLES OF DEEPER END JUVENILE JUSTICE
PROGRAMS
Juvenile justice systems have bent with the need
to deal more comprehensively with more difficult
youthful offenders. Juvenile courts continue to receive
referrals of lesser offenders and deal with them via
diversion or less intensive surveillance. Individual and
family counseling and collaborations to obtain helpful

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services from community agencies remain part of their
stock in trade. But many systems have reengineered
their practices to create a panoply of interventions
geared to more serious or repetitive offenders. There
now is much more. Much involves multi-intervention
strategies.
First up is a classification of probation supervision
intensity. Common levels include minimum, regular,
and maximum intensity supervision. Maximum intensity may be accompanied by adding paraprofessional
staff members to complement the probation officer
and increase the intensity of oversight and rule compliance. Shifts in levels are made as a juvenile progresses or regresses. Probation officers have increased
authority to add additional sanctions with non-compliant probationers such as to require house arrest, to
add more community service hours, to apply electronic monitors, to blend in time in the locked detention
facility, and to return the probationer to a judicial
hearing.
State codes, as in California, Illinois, and
Colorado, authorize sentences to detention, due to a
reoffense by a probationer or the failure to follow a
condition of probation. Some sentences are for 45
days.
Juvenile drug courts now abound across the country. Substance abusing delinquent youth experience
regularized court appearances and must participate in
substance abuse treatment. Failures to meet requirements result in speedily delivered sanctions.
Evaluations find these courts successfully place
offenders in treatment, retain them longer in treat-

25

ment, and reduce their criminal activity. Some delinquency drug courts also cross over to administer jurisdiction of a drug abusing parent who is a criminal
court client, and/or with the drug abusing parent of a
dependent/neglected child. Such a holistic approach
holds promise of controlling law violations and
enabling families to improve their health and adjustment.
Some jurisdictions administer evening reporting
centers, which enable a youth to leave a secure detention setting on the condition of attending such a center during late afternoon and evening hours. Here, as
in Chicago, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, California,
juveniles experience an array of educational, counseling, and skill building programs. They can be transported back and forth to a center. Their unscheduled
time, when they might get into further trouble, is
reduced.

A PITTSBURGH EXAMPLE
The Community Intensive Supervision Program
(CISP) initiated in Pittsburgh in 1990 illustrates a
multi-pronged intervention with serious, violent, and
chronic juvenile offenders. This has been an alternative to institutionalization for deep-end juveniles who
must be ordered into the program by a judge. CISP,
since 1997, also has functioned as a reentry program
for previously institutionalized juveniles.
CISP operates from agency centers in five high
delinquency neighborhoods. In addition to probation
officers, each center employs paraprofessional “com-

26

munity monitors” who live in these neighborhoods,
serve as role models, and are available around the
clock to monitor and assist these youth.
CISP centers are open seven days a week from 10
am to midnight; daily attendance there and at school is
required. Youth walk to the program after school and
staff members drive them home at night. There is
weekly drug testing, onsite drug and alcohol counseling, regular home visits and family participation, community service (minimum 100 hours) and restitution
requirements, and a victim impact curriculum. All
CISP juveniles are on electronic monitors throughout
this experience, even when they are performing well.
Community integration is stressed. Community
organizations direct the particular projects where
youth perform their work service and residents are
asked to talk with them and provide snacks to them
during these assignments. CISP staff members serve
on the boards of these organizations. The youth play
board games and cards with seniors at nursing homes
to develop bonds with seniors and feel a part of their
community. The success ratio is impressive.

A DENVER PROGRAM
This project, initiated in 2003, involves the Denver
Police Department, Denver Juvenile court and its probation staff, and local community residents in unusual ways to serve serious juvenile non-violent offender
in an integrated fashion. The Denver Youth
Development Court (DYDC) is the final opportunity
for these Denver juveniles to use a community correc-

27

tions setting instead of a juvenile institution to modify their repetitive antisocial behaviors. Approximately
100 juveniles are involved yearly in this program; their
average program stay is ten months.
Local law enforcement officers, termed “law
enforcement advocates,” are provided additional pay
to visit with program juveniles during evenings and
weekends. They establish relationships which enable
them to counsel these youth, monitor these youth as
to behaviors and school attendance, assist some with
school reenrollments, gain honesty as to drug violations (even performing drug/alcohol testing), and go
with them to talk with a potential employer about a
job. By appointment, they will purchase dinners and
take these to a youth’s home and eat with the family.
Juvenile accountability is a major objective for these
officers and the entire project.
An unusual community review board comprised of
citizens meets with enrolled juveniles and family
members each Thursday evening in a juvenile courtroom. The Colorado Supreme Court has granted
authority for board members to recommend sanctions
or rewards based on youth progress. Typically, each
juvenile-family meet with a board monthly, and members review reports and recommendations made by the
DYDC team, including police reports and recommendations
Recidivism reduction is an important goal here,
but another objective is improved citizen trust of the
police, of course, some juveniles here recidivate as do
juveniles in all community-level programs (as well as
post-incarcerated juveniles). Data here show that 14%

28

of DYDC enrollees were committed to correctional
institutions, but that 40% of a matched sample of juvenile probationers who were not enrolled in DYDC
were committed to these institutions. The recidivism
rate for DYDC juveniles within the first year following
program graduation was just 5% versus 32% for the
comparison population.
Other measures report a 60% improvement in
youth and parent attitudes toward police, and a 50%
improvement in police perceptions toward the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system related to public
safety.

A TEXAS SECURE FACILITY FOR CAPITAL
VIOLENT JUVENILE OFFENDERS

AND

SERIOUS

The Giddings State School is the maximum restriction facility of the Texas Youth Commission. It receives
and very aggressively programs juveniles convicted of
murder, of drive-by-shootings, of armed robberies, of
assaultive sexual offenses, and of other violent violations. Its grueling Capital and Serious Vi o l e n t
Offender Treatment Program involves highly structured 16-hour days that have enabled many youths,
but not all, to avert adult imprisonization. This school
has demonstrated that a juvenile system can absorb
and meaningfully assist many violent juveniles who in
others states would begin their court careers in a criminal court and proceed to adult sentencing.
The 16-hour days include elements of correctional
therapy, education, work, and discipline training.
There are individual and group counseling, phase

29

reviews, education, vocational education, specialized
treatments such as for substance abuse, physical education, and work maintenance of the facility and
grounds. Psychodrama, a method of group therapy
which takes the form of a play in which inmates dramatize roles relevant to their problems, is used to reenact all violations juveniles have committed and
those committed against them. Re-enactments involve
confrontations of their denials, facilitate expressions of
their rage and sense of isolation, bring out the internalization of the guilt they have harbored for hurting
others, and prompt acceptance of responsibility for
their injuries to others. These are among the processes used to further the rehabilitative prospect.
Texas is a blended sentence state where a juvenile
can begin serving time in a juvenile facility and then,
as when one fails the Giddings program; move on to
an adult facility. The stakes are huge for those enrolled
in this program and for the credibility of this program.
Successful graduates maintain a relatively low return
to violent crime rate, but more than a few move on to
25 to 40 year sentences in a penitentiary.
School therapists do testify in courtrooms to a
youth’s failure to cooperate with the counseling program, to violations of program rules, to unwillingness
to take responsibility for one’s crimes, and to any
reluctance to modify those behaviors and thought
processes that have contributed to their crimes. Staff
must do this to maintain the integrity of the program.
The Giddings School holds approximately 380
juveniles whose offenses were committed prior to their

30

17th birthdays. Its staff registers approximately 380
members, as well.

CONCLUSION
Juvenile violent crime rates are down. Juvenile justice systems have developed myriad methods to curb
risks to public safety by law violating youth who have
been brought into this court. Their methods hold
greater promise than criminal justice systems provide
to protect public safety while providing a range of
rehabilitative interventions that can bring fru i t f u l
futures. Far more youthful offenders should be transferred away from criminal justice into juvenile justice,
to the setting that the great legal scholar, Roscoe
Pound, long-term dean of the Harvard Law School,
had called the greatest invention in jurisprudence
since the Magna Ch

FORMER COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE, FORDENVER JUVENILE COURT, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE FOR THE
INSTITUTE FOR COURT MANAGEMENT OF THE
NATIONAL CENTER FOR STATE COURTS, AND CURRENT JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT AND JUSTICE
SYSTEM CONSULTANT, BOULDER, COLORADO.
I

MER JUDGE OF THE

SEE JOHN D. AND CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR
FOUNDATION, RESEARCH NETWORK ON ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT AND JUVENILE JUSTICE AT
WWW.MAC- ADOLDEV- JUVJUSTICE.ORG.
II

SNYDER, H.N. & SICKMUND, M. (2006).
JUVENILE OFFENDERS AND VICTIMS: 2006
NATIONAL REPORT. WASHINGTON, DC: U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. OFFICE OF JUVENILE
JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION.

III

31

32

By H. TED RUBIN

1012 14TH ST. NW, SUITE 610, WASHINGTON DC 20005
PHONE: 202-558-3580

FAX: 202-386-9807

BECAUSE THE CONSEQUENCES AREN’T MINOR

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