Members Present Judge Norman Backes, Chair Mary Hall Judge Debbie Kleven Justice Mary Muehlen Maring Judge Everett Nels Olson Judge Bruce Romanick Dale Thompson
Judge Backes called the meeting to order asking for additions or corrections to the
December 6, 2001, meeting. The minutes were approved as mailed.
Greg Wallace reported on the risk assessment being implemented in the juvenile courts. The
risk assessment is based on a Washington model, which is serving as model for the nation in terms
of risk/needs assessments. The assessment measures both criminal risk, in terms of current offense
and offense history, and also builds in research-based needs. Combining the two, the risk/needs
assessment should be able to both predict the chances of reoffending and help court officers develop
a plan to take advantage of both the needs of the child and any protective factors.
The Policy Board had approved moving forward with an instrument at the last meeting and
had set up a Risk Assessment Committee made up of juvenile court officers from each of the
districts. That committee, working with Jim Larson, Professor, University of North Dakota, had
reviewed several different approaches and models for risk instruments within the juvenile court.
After studying several models, the task force, based on the recommendations of Jim Larson, had
adopted the Washington model as a model for North Dakota.
Greg Wallace then reviewed the report from Jim Larson relating to the risk assessment.
Dr. Larson pointed out several advantages of the Washington model, including the fact that it is
based on the most current research and takes into account both risk and needs, protective factors, and
the fact that the model is public domain and North Dakota is free to modify it based on its own
Dr. Larson's report points out that there are two parts of the instrument. The first is a
prescreen which is intended to be used for most juveniles coming within the juvenile court. It is a
quick assessment of the criminality of the juvenile and does not deal with needs or positive factors.
The second is a full screen which includes the social history of the child, criminal history, school
history, use of free time, employment, positive and negative relationships in the community, the
environment in which a child is raised in, current living arrangements, problems with alcohol and
drugs, mental health issues, and the attitudes and behaviors of the child. The final section deals with
skills. The instrument has been shown to be a reliable predictor of reoffending and a tool for the
court officers in Washington to build case plans to address both needs and build on positive factors
in a child's life. The instrument, while validated for Washington, needs to be validated for the state
of North Dakota. There are several steps left in implementing the instrument, including exposing
it to judges, states attorneys, defense counsel, etc. Greg Wallace informed the committee that they
did not need to take action at this time and that they had already endorsed the concept and this was
simply a progress report.
The Policy Board then took up discussion of an interagency agreement relating to sexual
offenders under legislation passed by the 2001 Session. A statewide risk assessment task force has
been established. The purpose of the task force is to bring consistency in determining who will
monitor high risk levels of offenders across the state rather than relying on each individual law
enforcement or police department to make determination. The proposed interagency agreement was
reviewed by the committee. Under that agreement, the attorney general sets up a risk level
committee to review both adult and juvenile offenders. The juvenile court, rather than having a
representative directly on the task force, would be represented by the Division of Juvenile Services.
Greg Wallace explained that 90% of the work was going to involve adult offenders, and that most
juvenile offenders who come before the board will be with the Division of Juvenile Services. He,
therefore, did not think it would be appropriate or good use of court officer time to spend two to
three days a month on the statewide task force. He also explained that the Division of Juvenile
Services has agreed to conduct the actual risk assessment with the juveniles. Again, it appears that
the number of juveniles involved from the juvenile court itself will be minimal, perhaps 12 to 20 per
year, and to train court officers on using the risk assessment instrument, specific to sexual offenders,
did not seem prudent in terms of the low number of cases of any one court officer. The Division
of Juvenile Services plans to train two of its employees to conduct the actual assessment which
should allow them to maintain proficiency in the assessment. The juvenile court will still be
responsible for providing background information in order for the assessment to be conducted. The
committee reviewed the proposed cooperative agreement and the law. It was the consensus of the
Policy Board to support the cooperative agreement.
The Board then reviewed a progress report on the North Dakota Juvenile Drug Court as
submitted by Dr. Kevin Thompson. Justice Maring reviewed with the Policy Board the summary
of the drug court through January 2002. Up to this point there have been 56 participants - 25 in the
East Central District and 31 in the Northeast Central District. Of the 56, 21 are currently in the
program, 16 have graduated, and 19 have been terminated or revoked due to noncompliance. This
compares favorably with the national rate of retention, which is about 68%. North Dakota's rate
retention is about 66%. In all, as is expected, the majority of the participants are male (73%) and
73% of the participants are Caucasian. The drug courts will not take anyone under age 14. The
majority, 80%, are 16 or 17 years old. There has been one 18 years old who has participated with
the drug court. As expected, the choice of drug is alcohol at 55% with marijuana 45%. One of the
main benefits of the program has proven to be progress in school. Eighty-two percent of the drug
court participants are enrolled in school. Justice Maring reported that one of the areas that presents
the most unique challenge in North Dakota is the dual diagnosed juvenile. That is the juvenile who
has both alcohol and mental health problems. In some states, or in some drug courts, dual diagnosed
juveniles are not admitted into drug court because of the complexity of dealing with both issues. She
reported, however, that both court, while struggling with the dual diagnosis, felt that these are the
juveniles that are in most need for a drug court program. Dr. Kevin Thompson's report also shows
that of the participants in drug court, the average age of first referral to the juvenile court was 14
years. The average number of referrals before the juvenile was admitted to the court was about 5.4.
The report also indicates some positive results at this early stage. Juveniles are tested for drugs on
a random basis. Of the 2000 tests that have been administered, 83% have been negative, 16%
positive. The nationwide rate is 25% positive.
The analysis also indicates that the juveniles are recidivating at a significantly less rate than
the comparison group in Bismarck. Dr. Thompson's report explains that the rate is beyond what
would be attributable to chance.
Dr. Thompson reported that the most significant area of improvement seems to be that in the
schools. Court officers and school officials are reporting significant improvement in schools in
terms of attendance and some improvement in school in terms of grades. Dr. Thompson will be
doing a separate report on the school progress itself.
After discussion with the court, the Board took up discussion of the continuation of the
program. Greg Wallace reported that the judiciary is currently in the budget cycle and that decisions
need to be made as to whether new positions will be requested for the drug court. In the current
system, drug court coordinators are hired under the grant and court officers are assigned additional
responsibilities related to drug courts. The courts have attempted different scenarios in providing
staff services to the drug courts, including assigning all drug court juveniles to one court officer or
having each juvenile court officer continuing their probation supervision with a juvenile drug court.
The model of having each juvenile court officer maintain their probationer on the caseload seems
to be fairly inefficient, as you have a number of juvenile court officers tied up at the drug court every
week. Justice Maring explained that she would like to see support for the drug court program from
the Legislature in terms of general fund dollars. She felt that it would be important to move away
from grant dollars and move into general fund dollars for the continuation of the program. She
pointed out that there were positive results from Dr. Thompson's report and there is continued
political interest in the Legislature in the communities in the drug courts because they appear to be
effective in dealing with a particular growing number of juveniles. Greg Wallace explained that each
district prepares its own budget and that they put in requests to the Council of Presiding Judges for
new personnel. He felt that the current system of having coordinators and court officers resulted in
a number of overlapping duties and that the model of having a court officer assigned to the drug
court should probably be explored.
JUSTICE MARING MOVED THAT THE POLICY BOARD RECOMMEND THAT
THE PILOT DRUG COURTS CONTINUE AND BE USED AS MODELS FOR OTHER
JURISDICTIONS AND THAT FUNDING BE INCLUDED IN THE GENERAL BUDGET.
THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND PASSED.
Judge Olson expressed concern that requesting these positions would take priority over other
needed positions within the juvenile court of other districts. The Policy Board discussed the benefits
of the drug court and the advisability of requesting these positions as part of the general funds in
After discussion, IT WAS MOVED THAT THE JUVENILE POLICY BOARD
SUPPORT THE INCLUSION OF COURT OFFICER POSITIONS FOR DRUG COURTS
IN THE DISTRICTS' REQUESTS FOR NEW EMPLOYEES. THE MOTION WAS
SECONDED AND PASSED.
Greg Wallace then reviewed with the Policy Board the statistics for 2001. These statistics
indicate a slight decrease in the number of offenses seen by the juvenile court. Overall of their
11,000 referrals, this is the first time the statistics are also able to include not only the primary
referral, but secondary charges. In all, there were 14,400 charges covered in the 11,000 referrals.
The primary reason for referral is possession of alcohol. There were 2,890 charges for minor in
possession and consumption, and 650 possession and drug related offenses. The reason for the types
of referrals have remained constant between 2001 and 2002.
After further discussion of the offenses coming into juvenile court and having no further
business, Judge Backes adjourned the meeting.