|Members Present |
Judge Norman Backes, Chair
Judge Benny Graff
Judge Everett Nels Olson
Justice William A. Neumann
Judge Donald Jorgensen
Judge Backes called the meeting to order. Statistics relating to 1999 cases handled by the juvenile courts were reviewed. The statistics show a slight decrease in the number of cases handled in 1999, but the types of cases remain similar to previous years. The data distributed also showed the method of disposing of cases, including forma hearings, formal probation, informal probation, informal hearings, and diverted.
Justice Neumann asked for an explanation on the difference between "diverted" and informal probation. It was explained that diverted means being sent to another agency for services while informal adjustment means court staff are involved.
Judge Graff mentioned Bismarck's Police Youth Bureau as an example of diversion. Judge Backes pointed out that a number of years ago, when the courts decided to keep juvenile court services, a deliberate decision was made to divert and use out-sourced services moving juvenile courts away from "treatment" providers.
It was noted that the East Central and South Central districts divert the highest percentage of juveniles. Part of this is due to higher population districts being able to support and fund more services. The more rural courts do not have the same availability of services. Dale Thompson pointed out that most services for the Bottineau area are in Minot or Devils Lake and often the families cannot afford the trip.
This presents some implementation issues when developing statewide services. The rural court officer might be forced into different roles because services simply do not exist.
Mary Hall pointed to a program delivered by Youth Works for high risk, unruly juveniles. Families who come to the court with unruly children are required to go to the program before a petition is filed. She said the program probably results in 95% of the families not filing a petition. The program is funded by the local Children Services Coordinating Committee and the court through reinvestment dollars. It saves countless hours of staff time.
Judge Backes stated that the diversion approach was necessary because the courts could not staff to meet everyone's needs.
Members questioned whether these differences affected commitments to the Division of Juvenile Services (DJS). Dale Thompson stated that he was sure that juveniles were placed with DJS because more intensity and services were required than could be delivered through local probation. He felt that some of those would probably have resulted in probation in larger communities.
Greg Wallace handed out information relating to reinvestment dollars. He explained that reinvestment dollars were payments from the federal government to the state for money the state expends on foster care cases, including staff time. The money goes to the state Children Services Coordinating Committee (CSCC) to local coordinating committees. The juvenile courts get back 20% of the funds they generate. The document shows that, since1993, approximately $19 million statewide has been returned and used for services to families and children.
Last year, the juvenile courts generated about $730,000 and retained about $122,000. The reinvestment dollars are used for services such as tracking and the high risk programs Mary had spoken about.
Greg stated that 6% of what the state gets is kept by the state CSCC for statewide grants. He stated that he intended to approach the CSCC with the concept of giving that 6% to the generating agency. If adopted, the juvenile courts would be retaining 26% of what is generated.
A document relating to how those dollars could be expended was distributed. Greg explained that the court had adopted guidelines in 1993 relating to expenditures. The document distributed was a proposed update to that document. It was a result of discussion with juvenile court directors on June 7.
Greg explained that Section 1 of the document remained essentially the same. It allows purchase of services for families and children. Section 2 of the guidelines had been modified to tighten up expenditures for equipment. The previous draft had allowed purchase of computer equipment. The new draft eliminates computer equipment under the theory that normal operations should be funded from the general f und. The equipment would be limited to juvenile court specific programs which might include something like a breathalyzer.
Judge Neumann questioned what "normal approval" meant. Greg responded that purchases would need to follow the same route as any other equipment purchased, from the presiding judge to the state.
Section 3 relates to education. The section relating to using the money for in-state education was modified to allow payment for non-judicial employees who would provide a service to the court. Greg pointed to Keys facilitators as an example. He explained that the courts were using a number of individuals to help facilitate Keys programs. As a standard, the courts provide the training if the individual will conduct three sessions free. After that, the facilitator is paid for conducting sessions. The courts have paid for the costs of the training.
Mary Hall questioned how we could guarantee these individuals will follow-up and hold the sessions. Greg stated that there is no guarantee and at times the individuals are not asked by the courts to conduct sessions.
Judge Neumann suggested that the section needs to contain an approval process. The Board agreed to leave the approval level at the district level.
Section 4 prohibits the money from being used to hire employees, but does allow for contracts with individuals. Board members stated that the section needed to be switched around. What the money could be used for should be stated first. The fact that the contracts could not be with judicial employees needs to be clarified.
After discussion, JUDGE GRAFF MOVED AND DALE THOMPSON SECONDED THAT GREG BE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO FORWARD THE PROPOSED GUIDELINES TO THE COURT AFTER REVISING AND REDISTRIBUTING THE DRAFT GUIDELINES TO THE JUVENILE POLICY BOARD FOR POSSIBLE COMMENT.
Proposed Time Standards relating to juvenile court cases were then discussed. Greg explained that the time standards are the result of the Court Improvement Project and a task force set up by the Council of Presiding Judges. He explained that at this point, the standards are before the Board for their information only. They will be brought to the Board formally in September. He pointed out that the standards were initiated when work with the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was being started. Under current law a petition must be filed "promptly" if a child is kept in detention or shelter care. However, promptly is not defined. He had found that children were kept in foster care on temporary orders until a court date could be rescheduled. The petition is held and not filed until the date of filing is within 30 days of the court date. At times, this could mean a child is in shelter care for 3-4 months before a petition is filed. The standards also operate under the theory that court dates are more meaningful if they are more timely.
He pointed out the two areas of greatest debate involve children who are held in detention and in shelter care. The standards call for the petition being filed with 48 hours of the initial detention hearing. The juvenile court directors had reviewed the standards and suggested five working days. Five days would still allow service of process and holding a hearing in 14 days as required by law.
Greg pointed out that courts differ on what holding a hearing with 14 days means. Some courts interpret the law as requiring a hearing on the merits of the petition, while others interpret an initial appearance as sufficient. The standards refer to an initial appearance.
Board members suggested that 48 hours after the detention should be sufficient. Greg pointed out that in some areas the state's attorney is not available to prepare the documents in 48 hours. Board members pointed out that the juvenile courts do much of the work on the petition anyway. They agreed that 48 hours should be sufficient.
Greg pointed out that social services was concerned with filing a petition within 15 days. They did not believe that they could complete the investigation within 15 days.
Judge Jorgensen pointed out that social services was often confusing disposition with adjudication. They tend to want the whole case wrapped up, including a treatment plan, prior to filing a petition. He felt they needed to place higher priority on the investigation to get the charges filed.
The Board agreed that 15 days was sufficient and questioned if the standard should be 48 hours. They also questioned the length of some of the timeframes, saying they may be too long. Judge Olson pointed out that availability of defense counsel for juvenile cases may be one of the barriers to faster resolution of cases.
Judge Backes pointed out that the best way to move cases along was for the judge to take control of the cases through a scheduling order.
There was a consensus that standards needed to be developed to serve as the base for the scheduling order.
Discussion of the drug court and how it fits within the juvenile court structure was postponed to the September meeting to allow Justice Maring to attend.
Judge Jorgensen questioned the status of removing offenders from the juvenile offender database. He pointed out that the Board had taken a position of automatic removal of those who did not fit under the sexual offender registration laws.
Greg stated that a list of offenders had be sent to each juvenile court. The juvenile court had notified those who are not required to register that they were off the list. A second letter was sent to those who were required or might be required to register informing them that they could ask the court to have their name removed.
The meeting was adjourned.