Judge Norman Backes
Judge Benny Graff
Judge Everett Nels Olson
Justice William A. Neumann
Judge Donald Jorgensen
Justice Mary Muehlen Maring
Dr. Kevin Thompson
Judge Norman Backes opened the meeting, welcoming the members and guests. The minutes of the May 7, 1998, meeting were approved as mailed.
Judge Backes introduced Dr. Kevin Thompson, Associate Professor of Sociology at North Dakota State University. Dr. Thompson is under contract to perform an initial evaluation/audit of juvenile court practices and procedures using data collected by the state court administrator's office.
Dr. Thompson informed the Board that he has been working with two sets of data from the state - one contains data from 1989 through 1993. The second set results from a change in data collected and contains data from 1994 through 1997. The data sets are both from the state court administrator's office. He has not yet merged the two sets, so the information presented comes from the first, or older, data. He also informed the Board that he was collecting additional information relating to the evaluation of the "Keys" program. That information will be available at the next meeting of the Board.
Dr. Thompson reported that the data set he was working with had about 97,000 records or offenses. There were about 44,000 different individuals in the database. The records included referrals for deprivation, unruliness, and delinquency. The data indicates a reappearance rate of 43.4% with 56.6% appearing in the juvenile court once.
Members asked how this compared with other jurisdictions. Dr. Thompson stated that he had seen recidivism rates from 25% to 60%. The North Dakota data does include deprivation data which may result in a higher reappearance rate.
Dr. Thompson reviewed several preliminary findings. He noted that males make up a majority of the referrals, but reappearance rates appear similar between males and females. Generally, boys are reappearing for property offenses and girls for unruly and deprivation. Race of the offender did not seem to significantly affect reappearance rates, though Native Americans have a higher reappearance rate. However, there are significant differences in appearance rates between districts and significant differences in the time it takes to process cases.
Dr. Thompson's data at this point is descriptive in nature. By looking more closely, policy issues, such as the effect of diverting out first-time shoplifters, should be able to be looked at.
After further general discussion of the information, Judge Backes thanked Dr. Thompson and stated that he is looking forward to his report at the December meeting.
Judge Backes then called on Justice Maring. Justice Maring stated that she is appearing before the Board asking that the Board endorse a study of a juvenile drug court. She related that in cases that come before the court, drug and alcohol abuse is an evident problem. She would like to establish a study group to investigate the data, the problem, the programs available from local resources, and models for juvenile drug courts, to determine if a pilot juvenile drug court should be considered. If the study group decides that implementation of a pilot site is appropriate to coincide with federal implementation grants, a decision would need to be made and a grant developed by March, 1999. She suggested a broad based study group to investigate the concept, including law enforcement, state's attorneys, treatment providers, and, of course, the courts.
Justice Maring further described the concept of the program, explaining that a drug court would involve a considerable commitment of time on the part of the judge.
Judge Backes expressed some concern with the commitment of time and the juvenile court being involved with treatment.
Justice Maring responded that it does involve the judge as an important part of the "treatment" process. The research indicates the importance of the judge's role.
Judge Backes stated that he did not have a problem with judicial involvement, if the treatment can be provided from other sources.
After further discussion, JUDGE OLSON MOVED THAT THE JUVENILE POLICY BOARD ENDORSE THE STUDY, THAT JUSTICE MARING BE NAMED CHAIR OF THE STUDY GROUP, AND THAT THE CHAIR HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO APPOINT MEMBERS. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND PASSED.
Greg Wallace then presented a proposed budget of about $13,000 to complete the initial study.
MARY HALL MOVED THAT THE JUVENILE POLICY BOARD ENDORSE THE PROPOSED BUDGET. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND PASSED.
Judge Backes called on Al Lick, Director of the Division of Juvenile Services. Mr. Lick stated that Greg Wallace had asked him to update the Board on any legislative issues that the department foresaw. However, before discussing legislation he asked for the Board's indulgence as he brought the Board up to date on the division's activities.
Al Lick then reviewed placements to the division by human service region, gender and race makeup, and recidivism rates. The biggest problem facing the system appears to be the large percentage of Native Americans in the system - about 40% compared to making up 6% of the general population. Mr. Lick informed the Board that part of the problem was due to lack of services in tribal areas. Attempts are being made to address these services. For example, the state is funding juvenile probation officers on all four reservations through the juvenile justice block grant the state received. However, the lack of services, unemployment, and other issues are simply overwhelming.
Mr. Lick also reviewed the process through which the $400,000 from the juvenile justice block grant has been set aside for juvenile courts and $600,000 to local government entities. He then stated that he foresaw no legislative initiatives by the department other than funding to make pine cottage, the secure cottage at the state youth correctional center, completely self-sufficient. He did, however, express concern with the proposal being considered by the directors of juvenile court to allow sentencing to detention. He felt that if a juvenile needs to be sentenced to a secure facility, custody should be transferred to the Division of Juvenile Services. He also felt that the counties would be concerned because of potential costs.
Greg explained that the directors had asked for a bill draft allowing judges to sentence juveniles to detention for up to eight days. The bill draft would be presented to the Juvenile Policy Board for consideration if approved by the directors.
Judge Backes thanked Mr. Lick for his presentation. Board members then discussed his presentation and concerns, especially with the large number of Native American children in the system.
Greg Wallace then reviewed two program areas that had been developed on the recommendation of the director of juvenile courts and the Juvenile Policy Board. Both programs are funded through a federal juvenile justice block grant to the state. In all, some $400,000 has been set aside for the exclusive use of the courts, though the dollars will not appear in the judiciary's budget. The dollars are for a two year period.
The Policy Board had adopted the following goals at its February, 1998, meeting:
- Establish statewide accessibility to electronic monitoring as pre-adjudication and post-disposition tool.
- Establish statewide access to "trackers" whose primary focus is monitoring and "surveillance" rather than monitoring.
In response, $200,000 has been set aside for intensive tracking and electronic monitoring. The program will provide the capability to extensively monitor two to three juveniles per month in the eight smaller courts and four to five juveniles per month in the four larger courts.
The program is being developed along the principles adopted by the Juvenile Policy Board as recommended by the directors of juvenile court. Those principles are:
1. Pre-adjudication costs of electronic monitoring should be the responsibility of the county. The intensive tracking portion and costs related to post-adjudication or informal adjustments are the responsibility of the state.
2. Electronic monitoring should normally be limited to two weeks, with an absolute 30-day limit.
3. Consequences of violation of electronic monitoring should be pre-defined and explained to child and family. Consequences may range from a standing pick-up order to notification of court officer.
4. Electronic monitoring would need to be authorized as part of court order or by juvenile court department head in informal adjustment.
5. Trackers should be used in conjunction with electronic monitoring. Tracker would:
a. install the monitor;
b. answer and investigate violation alarms;
c. supplement electronic monitoring with personnel and a phone contact;
d. have authority to authorize predefined orders of the court (i.e., if held at home in place of detention, court order would state that a violation of the conditions of home detention will result in an immediate pickup order or authorization to detain. The tracker would be authorized to notify law enforcement of violation of home detention without contacting court officer;
e. cost of tracker would be the responsibility of the court;
f. Flexibility to arrange for telephone services or change in services for families that don't have appropriate telephone.
6. Trackers will be used for 30-60 days and could be used as a supplement to electronic monitoring or as an independent resource.
7. Trackers will make random contacts with juveniles, including random drug testing within current policy. They will also have authority to check collateral contacts, such as schools, work, and programs that the child has been referred to.
8. The contacts would be more intensive at the beginning, tapering off to more traditional probation.
9. Referral to tracking services would be accomplished through a court order or by agreement as a part of an informal adjustment.
10. A standard form outlining conditions of electronic monitoring or intensive tracking will be used.
After discussion, MARY HALL MOVED TO PROCEED WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTENSIVE TRACKING AND ELECTRONIC MONITORING IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH THE PRINCIPLES PREVIOUSLY ADOPTED BY THE BOARD. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND PASSED.
Greg Wallace then presented the second program area - victim/offender mediation. This falls under the goal of fully involving the victim in the juvenile justice process, a goal also adopted at the February, 1998, meeting. He suggested that a more proper term is "Offender Accountability Conference". These meetings involve a facilitator with mediation skills, but are not traditional mediation conferences. Traditional mediation involves parties who are coming together to resolve a dispute, in a manner where all parties may need to compromise. The primary purpose is to reach a settlement. The victim/offender meetings have different goals, including:
1. To empower victims by direct involvement in the justice process, offering the opportunity for greater emotional closure;
2. To impress on offenders the human impact of their behavior; and
3. To provide an opportunity for offenders to make amends through compensating victims, in some form, for the losses they have incurred.
There may or may not be issues, such as amount of restitution owed, to mediate.
Greg informed the Board that a full description of the proposed project would be available for the Board's review at the December 4, 1998, meeting. Implementation is expected to begin in January, 1999.
The Board then reviewed a proposal for staffing standards from the National Center for Juvenile Justice. The proposal comes as a result of the Supreme Court assigning the responsibility of developing juvenile court staffing standards to the Juvenile Policy Board and the District Court Personnel Advisory Board. The court set a December 31, 1998, deadline.
The proposal suggests developing a staffing model based on implementing the balanced approach, recognizing the duties and priorities of juvenile court will likely change in yet undefined ways.
Justice Neumann emphasized the need for the standards and questioned whether the proposal were too ambitious in the suggested timeframe. After discussion of staffing standards and the need to develop standards on the basis of consistent service delivery, JUSTICE NEUMANN MOVED TO ENDORSE THE STUDY AND THE ACCOMPANYING BUDGET. THE MOTION WAS SECONDED AND PASSED.
The process of holding elections to fill expired terms was discussed. Elections by district judges will be held this fall.
Having no further business, the meeting was adjourned.