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Juvenile Justice Reform

Concerning changes to improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2019 Regular Session
Children & Domestic Matters
Bill Summary

Juvenile justice reform - committee - membership - duties - juvenile detention working group - additional duties - district attorneys and juvenile probation use of screening tools - appropriation. The act establishes a committee on juvenile justice reform (committee) in the department of public safety (department) and establishes its membership. The act specifies duties of the committee including:

  • By September 1, 2019, adopting a validated risk and needs assessment tool or tools to be used throughout the juvenile justice system;
  • Selecting a mental health screening tool for juvenile offenders;
  • Selecting a validated risk screening tool to be used by district attorneys in determining a juvenile's eligibility for diversion;
  • By July 1, 2020, selecting a vendor to assist in the implementation of and provide training on the tools; and
  • Developing plans for measuring the effectiveness of the tools.

Under current law, there is a working group under the division of youth services on detention of juvenile offenders and alternative services to detention. The act adds to the working group's duties that by January 1, 2021 it must:

  • Adopt a research-based detention screening instrument, develop a plan for training on the new instrument, and submit a report on the use of the new instrument;
  • Establish criteria for the alternative services and report on the effectiveness of the alternative services;
  • Adopt a relative information form for parents and guardians to complete; and
  • Develop a system of graduated responses and reward for juvenile parole officers.

On and after January 1, 2021, the act requires district attorney's offices to use the risk screening tools and the results of the tools in determining a juvenile's eligibility for diversion and need for services. It specifies grounds that may not be used to deny diversion and directs the division of criminal justice to collect data and report on juvenile diversion programs.

The act restricts removing a juvenile from the custody of a parent, unless the detention screening is conducted and specified findings are made, and directs that unless physical restriction is required, custody of the juvenile is given to kin or another person. It limits which juveniles may be placed in detention. In releasing a juvenile from detention, the act requires the juvenile court to use the detention screening instrument.

For juvenile probation, the act requires the state court administrator to:

  • By January 1, 2021, develop a statewide system of graduated responses and incentives to change a juvenile's behavior and address violations; and
  • By July 1, 2021, develop statewide standards for juvenile probation supervision and services and provide annual training on the standards.

For the 2019-20 state fiscal year, the act appropriates $68,598 from the general fund to the judicial department; $500,000 from the general fund to the department of human services for the division of youth services; and $6,315 from the general fund to the legislative department.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details