6:00 p.m. Dinner meeting
JUVENILE COURT IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
Over the last several years, the Directors of Juvenile Courts, the members of the Juvenile Court Association, the Juvenile Policy Board, and the District Court Personnel Advisory Board have worked on a number of related issues, policies and procedures.
These elements can be grouped into four categories:
I. Mission and Philosophy.
II. Implementation of that Mission.
III. Staffing Levels: Juvenile Court Services.
The following draft "implementation plan" is intended to tie key elements together. This plan points to a common direction in juvenile court services and provides some budgeting guidelines.
I. Mission and Philosophy
Over the years, the juvenile courts have operated with varying practices and procedures, some of which have been necessitated by staff and resources. However, some of the differences are attributable to varying philosophies on the role and mission of juvenile court services.
Through the Juvenile Court Association, the competing philosophies within the juvenile justice environment have been recognized and debated. With this recognition, the philosophy known as the "Balanced Approach to Probation" was recommended to and accepted by the Juvenile Policy Board as the operating philosophy of the juvenile courts.
The Balanced Approach to Probation
The balanced approach to probation suggests that an effective probation system needs to address community protection, accountability (to the community and the victims) and competency development. It suggests that an effective probation department will give equal weight to all three components. However, this does not mean an individual will receive equal "doses" of all three. Rather, the approach used will be individualized.
The research cited by the proponents of the balanced approach shows that relying on any individual philosophy is less effective than "balancing" the philosophies. Thus a department that emphasizes only community protection through reliance on secure placements is less effective in preventing recidivism than a department that includes casework and accountability. Likewise, the research indicates that departments that rely solely on accountability (restitution and community service), office/field casework, supervision (including intensive supervision), or in-sight counseling alone are less effective.
Based on their philosophy and research, the proponents of the balance approach suggest the following purpose statement:
"The purpose of juvenile probation is to protect the community from delinquency, to impose accountability for offenses committed, and to equip juvenile offenders with the required competency to live productively and responsibly in the community."
(For a further discussion on this philosophy and research, see - Juvenile Probation: The Balanced Approach, Dennis Maloney et al. - National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges - Juvenile Justice Textbook Series.)
II. Implementing the Balanced Approach in North Dakota
Within North Dakota (and nationally) community protection has been an emphasized in recent initiatives. Legislation was passed to address transfer some of the more serious or repeat offenders. The Division of Juvenile Services is developing plans and facilities to deal with the serious repetitive offenders. Nevertheless, the vast majority of offenders will continue to be served by juvenile court services. We cannot simply pass the "serious" offenders to others, but must plan and program for serious and repetitive offenders in the community.
As a segment of probation, community protection warrants continued investigation. Three areas in particular should be established as goals for the next biennium.
1. Risk Assessment.
Juvenile court officers continually make decisions relating to how a case will be processed and the disposition of a case. These decisions invariably involve an assessment of risk, even if that decision is made informally.
Risk assessments have proven invaluable in assisting officers in making these decisions. The instrument also helps provide consistent decisions from officer to officer and from court to court. A reliable instrument provides a method of focusing limited resources that can serve as a basis in measuring outcomes of programs and services.
Developing a risk assessment or decision criteria involves at least three phases. Through already collected data, including offenses, general disposition, and recidivism information, an audit of current practices will be performed. Through that audit, a description of how juveniles are processed and the effect of those processes on outcomes, and general trends can be developed. ( For example, is there a difference in six months of informal probation versus six weeks in terms of reappearance in the juvenile court?)
As the second phase, collection of information relating to current programs and outcomes needs to be reviewed. For example, is a shoplifter program as effective in reducing reappearance as informal probation? Does "Keys to Innervision" deliver the changes in attitudes and effect re-appearance rates? This phase will involve assembly of information beyond what is currently collected.
The third phase involves development of the risk assessment and decision criteria information. Any such instrument should be developed with the risk assessment used by the Division of Juvenile Services in mind.
Finally, the effectiveness of a juvenile court cannot be measured only in terms of reappearance rates. The juvenile courts alone cannot reduce juvenile crime. Rather, the courts must be part of the community response to unwanted youth activities. As such, the measure of effectiveness of the juvenile courts needs to include outcome or performance measures, such as victim satisfaction, and community support for the juvenile courts.
A contract will be established to begin the initial phases of developing a risk assessment.
The contract will include, a description of current practices and trends using data supplied by the court administrative office. This section of the study will include a trend analysis and a description of how juveniles are being processed, and whether the data indicates outcome differences, controlling for such variables as age, gender, offense, time between offense and hearing data, etc. This phase will be completed by December 31, 1997.
The second portion of the contract will include an in depth evaluation of the "Keys to Innervision" program, including interviews with participants, parents, court officers and collateral contracts. Evaluation will include client satisfaction measures, attitudinal measures, school performance, and success on probation measures. This portion of the study is currently underway with the initial report due in mid-January.
The contract will include development of outcome measurements for programs referred to such as minor in possession, shoplifting program, etc. This section of the study will be completed by mid-January. Upon acceptance, the data will be collected for evaluation at six month intervals.
Finally, the contract will include assistance in developing risk categories or risk instrument. This will be completed by July 1, 1997.
2. Statewide Drug and Alcohol Testing.
Court officers suspect that at least 50% of the juveniles who appear in the courts more than once are involved with drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol issues cannot be addressed unless identified. Therefore, testing of probationers is being carried out on a statewide basis, apparently in conformance with established policies. The tests are being used to assist in treatment or management plans for the juvenile. This program appears to have been successfully implemented on a statewide basis and serves as a valuable tool. There are requests to conduct tests on juveniles who are not under the jurisdiction of the court (i.e., requests from parents as part of an unruly intervention).
Goal - To review the feasibility, procedures, and practices associated with performing voluntary drug testing.
On occasion, enhanced monitoring of certain offenders will help assure public safety. This monitoring may include home detention as a pre-adjudication alternative to detention or as a post-adjudicative sanction. Two separate but related programs, electronic monitoring and "trackers" who serve as monitors would help provide this enhanced monitoring.
Goal - Establish statewide accessability to electronic home monitoring as a pre-adjudication and post-disposition tool.
Goal - Establish statewide access to "trackers" whose primary focus is monitoring and "surveillance" rather than mentoring.
These services would serve as an enhancement to probation in effect, giving the court the ability to intensively supervise individuals. Such services might be combined with electronic monitoring. The directors recognize that the intensive supervision must be of limited duration for any one child and that such supervision is likely to uncover violations of probation. Reasonable and predictable consequences must be part of this program.
The juvenile courts have emphasized accountability to the victim and the community. Annually, the courts consistently collect over $100,000 in restitution and require 20,000 hours of community service.
Restitution and community services play a significant role in the probation system. Several studies have shown that such programs can reduce recividism. They have the side benefit of an 80-90% public support rating in opinion polls. However, these programs, in and of themselves, are not assurances of success. Many programs suffer from high non-completion rates. Research has shown that some programs do little to reduce recividism. However, that research has identified seven factors which can be statistically significant in determining whether a youth completes a restitution program and results in lower recividism rates.
1. The use of a formal restitution program;
2. A source of subsidized work to help youths who had to earn money to pay victims;
3. Youths participating in school or full-time work;
4. Ordered monetary restitution amounts of approximately $300-$350 or less;
5. Ordered community service amounts of 75 hours or less;
6. An interactive teaching lesson with the youth on his accountability; and
7. The time required from the youth's intake to the disposition hearings is less than four months.
Research has also indicated that competency development as part of restitution increases the likelihood of completion of the program and prevention of further offenses. As with protecting the community, we are actively implementing this component of the balanced approach. However, the implementation is often dependent on staffing or non-court resources and is not consistent statewide.
Recent research has also shown that involvement of victims with offenders can statistically reduce recurring offenses. Full involvement of the victim in the process is the key underlying philosophy of the balance approach and restorative justice. Involvement of victims is, perhaps, one of the areas that needs the most work.
Goal - Fully implement restitution and community service programs on a statewide basis, including full involvement of the victim.
While recognizing the importance of involving the victim, alternatives to juvenile court officers providing the direct services to victims must e pursued. For example, expansion of current victim/advocate programs and encouragement of victim/mediation programs outside of the judiciary should be considered. The juvenile courts will need to review their policies and procedures to work closely with such proponents.
When a juvenile enters the system, we tell a juvenile not to re-offend, we restrict freedom, hold the individual accountable, and threaten further consequences. Often, however, we don't give the youth and parents the where-with-all to change their behavior. This is addressed as competency development. As the third component of implementing the "balanced approach", competency development has traditionally been the weakest link (this is also true nationally). As a principle, competency development is providing those who enter the juvenile court system with a skill which will enhance the ability to function in society. The competency needs may be in different areas, ranging from ability to read to handling money. For those entering the juvenile justice system, interpersonal skills including decision-making, goal setting, problem solving, anger management, and dealing with alcohol and drugs are consistently lacking.
Research shows that interpersonal skills training has successfully reduced recidivism and protected the community.
Juvenile Probation Practices That Teach Youths*
Competencies and Provide Effective Community Protection
|Juvenile Probation Practice||Research References|
Interpersonal Skills Training for Delinquent Youths
|Chandler, 1973; Collingwood, and Genthner, 1980; Hazel, Schumaker, Sherman, and Sheldon-Wildgen, 1982; Goldstein, 1987|
|2. Interpersonal Skills and/or Discipline Management Skills Training for Parents of Delinquent Youths||San Diego County, 1973; Binder, 1978; Robin, 1981; Romig, 1982|
|3. Interpersonal Skills and/or Decision-Making Skills for Truant Youths||Sacramento County, 1973; Sarason and Sarason, 1981; Rotheram, 1982; Hawkins, Doueck, and Lishner, 1986|
|4. Interpersonal Kills and/or Problem Solving Skills Training for the Youth and Parents for Youths Who Runaway||Sacramento County, 1973; Stratton, 1975; Ostensen, 1981; Alexander and Parsons, 1973|
*Chart from The Balanced Approach
The development of a "competency" component fits well with the goal of many directors in instituting a "curriculum" for probation. That is, developing a structure for probation that identifies the goals of probation for an individual and provides a method of addressing those goals. Thus, instead of probation being a check-in system, where the officer asks how things are going, goals for probation can be established and addressed in a consistent manner.
In reviewing potential strategies and programs to meet this third component, "Keys to Innervision" has come to the forefront. The "Keys" program is based on a cognitive restructuring theory. While there are a number of such programs, the Keys program has several advantages which, when taken together, fit North Dakota's needs.
1. The curriculum is flexible. It can be structured to address basic decision making processes for first-time or minor offenders (the informal adjustments), or address a full range of issues of those on probation for longer periods of time. In addition to the core curriculum, dependent on needs, specific risk factors ranging from addiction to anger management and grief can be added.
2. The program can be delivered by court officers. Many interpersonal skills/cognitive restructuring programs, require psychologists or master's level therapists.
3. It is cross-disciplinary. In many areas, "Keys" has been implemented in probation departments, the schools, and corrections. Thus, the main actors are speaking the same language.
4. It has proven results as a probation component.
5. It is flexible. The curriculum can be delivered to small groups or individuals. It can be delivered by court officers or other persons or entities on behalf of the court.
6. It is cross-cultural. The Keys program has been successfully implemented within a predominantly Native American population.
7. It is measurable. Results of the program are and have been measured in probation departments, schools, and correction settings.
Again, there are a number of cognitive restructuring programs available. The decision to implement "Keys" was based on a series of discussions with state administrators, regional supervisors, and direct line workers in probation, corrections, schools, and social services in three states. The ability to individualize the curriculum and flexibility in how the program is delivered lends itself to North Dakota where there is a wide variety in staffing levels and services available to the court. Most significantly, direct-line court officers who have reviewed the program have expressed enthusiastic support for it.
Goal - Full implementation of "Keys" on a statewide basis, including a parents component.
III. Staffing Levels: Juvenile Court Services [Discussion deferred to November]
In January, 1991, a new paygrade system was adopted for the juvenile courts.
History of Court Officer Classification
There was considerable rationale in the consolidation of some of these titles. The duties under the classification system may be summarized as follows:
|Prior Title||New Title|
|Probation Officer I||Entry level||Court Officer I|
|Probation Officer II||Experienced probation officer, could hold informal adjustments, but seldom did|
|Probation Officer III||Had some supervisory responsibility along with caseload|
|Juv. Supervisor I||Primarily probation, held some informals, could issue temporary orders||Court Officer II||Experienced court officer may be assigned informal hearing, may issue temporary orders|
|Juv. Supervisor II||Head of a small office, or assistant in a large office||Court Officer III|
|Juv. Supervisor III||Head of large office||Director of Juvenile Court||Head of a large office (districtwide responsibility)|
When positions were consolidated, the duties of the probation officer II and III were consolidated with the juvenile supervisor I. This was done because there had been considerable concern that persons were being reclassified as juvenile supervisor I, not because of difference in duties, but in order to get pay raises. In many instances the juvenile supervisor I's were serving primarily as probation officers, with some informal adjustment duties added. The court officer II position was created as a "full performance officer", one which could be assigned informal adjustment and temporary orders.
In recognition of this, the court officer II paygrade was raised to that of the old juvenile supervisor I, paygrade 25 of the Executive Branch paygrade system, which we used at that time.
Under the current system, a juvenile court officer I is an entry level position. Incumbents primarily carry a probation caseload under close supervision. The juvenile court officer II is a full performance position. An officer achieves this paygrade when the supervisor certifies that, in the opinion of the supervisor, the court officer is able to carry out all the duties of the position including managing a caseload, conducting informal adjustments, and issuing 30-day custody orders. The court officer III is differentiated from the court officer II through the assignment of "administrative duties", serving as the head of a large office or as assistant to the Director of Juvenile Court Services in the district.
Currently, there are 3 directors of juvenile court, 11 court officer III's, 20 court officer II's, and 5 court officer I's. Thus, 14 of 39 professional juvenile court staff are at their paygrade because of "administrative duties". In reality, the court officer III's spend most of their time delivering direct services rather than supervising staff, implementing programs, or establishing policies. It is, in fact, sometimes difficult to differentiate the workload of some of the court officer II's from the court officer III's. The four paygrade difference between the two is, at times, inappropriate.
In order to emphasize the importance of working directly with clients and lessen relying on assignment of "administrative duties", the following model is proposed.
Juvenile Court Officer I Paygrade 7
Juvenile Court Officer II Paygrade 8
Senior Court Officer Paygrade 9
Juvenile Court Officer III Paygrade 10
Director of Juvenile Court Paygrade 13
Under the proposed model, current juvenile court officer III's would be grandfathered into their paygrade. All future court officer III's would be at paygrade 10. Paygrade 9 would be opened to the full performance officer who shows exemplary service as a direct provider. Thus, the court officer II would not have to take on supervisory or administrative duties to move up. Over time, this will eliminate most of the difference between the employee direct provider and those who perform administrative duties, and still recognize those with some supervisory responsibility. As stated by a director in Colorado, "You do not have to take an outstanding service provider and make them into a lousy supervisor to get a promotion."
In developing this system, the judiciary will remain competitive with the executive branch.
|Paygrade||Position||Pay Range||Paygrade||Position||Pay Range|
|21||Social Worker I||1658-2640|
|23||Social Worker II||1822-2891||7||Juvenile Court Officer I||1813-2720|
|25||Social Worker III||2001-3168||8||Juvenile Court Officer II||2018-3027|
|26||County Director I||2098-3315||9||(Senior Court Officer)||2248-3372|
|29||County Director II||2419-3809||10||(Juvenile Court Officer III)||2505-3758|
|32||County Director III||2790-4380||12||2990-4485|
|33||County Director IV||3070-4812||13||Director of Juvenile Court Services||3134-4701|
( ) - proposed paygrade
County Director I - staff generally less than 8
County Director II - staff of 14-20
County Director III - staff of 20-40
County Director IV - staff of 50 or greater
IV. Education and Training
Unlike judges who come to the system with a base level of knowledge and possession of a law degree, juvenile court staff come with varying levels of experience and knowledge. These officers are required to make decisions and direct case plans which have significant impact on families and children. As such, it is incumbent on the judiciary to provide a officers with the "body of knowledge" necessary to make good decisions. It is also incumbent on the judiciary to assure that officers be exposed to the education and that attendance is mandatory.
The director of education has established a five-year curriculum which is being implemented through two educational seminars per year. This curriculum is designed to provide this "body of knowledge" through in-state education. Thus, in-state training for juvenile court dollars should be emphasized, rather than out-of-state training.
There are, however, times when out-of-state training is desirable. However, the availability of out-of-state training should not be dependent on which district the employee works in. Rather, the juvenile courts should be viewed as a statewide system, making out-of-state training equally available.
1. Implementation of education curriculum based on underlying philosophy of balanced approach.
2. Implementation of orientation program.
3. Mandated continuing education.
V. Administration [Discussion deferred to November]
Administration of the juvenile courts is somewhat confusing. Under court rule, the director of trial court administration "supervises and directs...juvenile court administrative support staff." What this means is unclear. There is a direct responsibility, but authority is questionable.
The need for direct authority is also not clear. Much has been accomplished over the last year through monthly meetings with the heads of juvenile courts.
The concept of sharing staff between districts presents an opportunity to experiment with the "administrative" structure of the courts. Staff will be shared between the Northeast and Northeast Central Judicial Districts, the East Central and Southeast Judicial Districts, and the South Central and Southwest Judicial Districts. The sharing will also allow some experimentation with assigning some implementation responsibility to the current directors. Over the next biennium, the current directors could be assigned the duty of ensuring that programs and policies adopted by the Council of Presiding Judges and Juvenile Policy Board are implemented in the geographic areas as indicated above. This does not envision direct supervisory responsibility; rather, it envisions a working relationship with those concerned to bring issues and necessities to the attention of the Juvenile Policy Board, Council of Presiding Judges, presiding judge, or the Director of Trial Court Administration.
Goal - Establish clean lines of authority, a flowchart of how issues are brought forward and policies and procedures implemented and enforced.
VI. Juvenile Court Reinvestment Dollars [Discussion deferred to November]
Through agreements with local and state children services coordinating committees, the juvenile courts are able to access "reinvestment dollars" which are to be used to supplement programs and services for children and families. While general guidelines have been issued by the supreme court, the guidelines need to be reviewed with consideration of statewide programs.
VII. Community Awareness/Community Support [Discussion deferred to November]
VIII. Management Review [Discussion deferred to November]