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Juvenile Court: Then and Now
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  1. Juvenile Court: Then and Now • Hon. Bernadette Conway CAJ Juvenile Matters 1 Court Street Middletown, CT Bernadette.Conway@jud.ct.gov

  2. Early American Juvenile Jurisprudence • 1640’s—Massachusetts Stubborn Child Law: “if any child or children above sixteen years old, and of sufficient understanding shall CURSE or SMITE their natural FATHER or MOTHER he or she shall be put to death, unless. . .the Parents have been very unchristianly negligent in the education of such children. . .”

  3. Old v. New: Discussion Points • How do we define child? Sixteen years old = ‘stubborn child’ in 1640. Now under eighteen years old with RTA legislation; suit of armor v. fMRI’s • Educational neglect defense available in 1640 v. Juvenile Court’s involvement in educational issues in 2013 • The broadening definition of parent from ‘natural parent’. Permanent Guardianship, Adoption • Death penalty for a 1640 status offender v. developing and strengthening parent-child bond in 2013

  4. Modern Juvenile Court “Juvenile Court is the original problem-solving court. . . Originated as a reform, the juvenile court combines social and legal attributes to serve public interests related to children and families. It was founded in recognition that children are different from adults, and that the law should address children’s issues from a perspective that acknowledges those differences. The juvenile court was envisioned as the setting where societal intervention on behalf of children would take place if parenting had failed to ensure that children are properly raised. The hallmark of juvenile court is individual justice. . .” Judge Leonard P. Edwards (orig, pub. 1992)

  5. Raise the Age Legislation • Fully operational as of July 1, 2012. Sixteen years old (since 2010) and seventeen years old (in 2012) have been fully absorbed into the juvenile court system. Better outcomes. Next slide shows recidivism rate and is defined as any new arrest or referral to court, including status offenses AND criminal charges in adult court.

  6. Mental Health • Detained JJ children in need of a psychiatric evaluation at Solnit (Riverview) now have an average wait of ten days. • Having a clinical coordinator in every courtstreamlines identifying and addressing the mental health / emotional needs of JJ pop. • Pre-adjudication intervention available; participation voluntary.

  7. Traumatized Children • TARGET psychoeducation for emotion regulation • Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavior Therapy • Entering MOA with DCF to establish learning collaboratives for all juvenile courts with targeted providers • In the community: Invaluable collaboration with EMPS: (44% increase in EMPS utilization at SBDI schools); EMPS mobile crisis utilization tripled, while ambulance calls decreased by up to 22%

  8. JJJ Strategic Plan Stakeholders • Ongoing work with Local Interagency Service Teams (LISTS) • Youth Service Bureaus • Juvenile Review Boards • Judicial beginning to share JJ population data with SDE to better service JJ kids as they transition back into community • Judicial alerting DMHAS about 16 year olds allows a two year head start for transition purposes • Juvenile Information Sharing Guide on Judicial website

  9. Early Intervention Program • Judicial and DCF established MOA for program, effective October 1st, targeting twelve year old and younger population referred for status offenses or delinquency • National and state research shows that the key indicator for recidivism is the age of first referral • Focus on accessing needing services for child and family through Probation or DCF, especially educational supports, to divert from court

  10. School Based Arrests • Judicial collaborating with many others and enlisting the assistance of CHDI to decrease SBA • Results of data from initial sample of participating SBDI schools in SYs 2010-2012 show a 50-69% decrease in SBA per school and an average decrease of in-school suspensions of 9% (out of school suspension 8%) • Data from all 17 participating schools for SY 2012-2013 reflect a 19% decrease with one inner-city school enjoying a 92% decrease

  11. Permanent Guardianship • Enhances permanency and therefore stability for the child and his/her family • Permits ongoing contact when appropriate between child and bio family without threat of reinstatement litigation • Alternative permanency plan to TPR

  12. Adoption • A happy and seamless transition from probate court • National Adoption Day: Nov. 22nd • Goal to conduct at least one adoption hearing in every juvenile court in CT on Nov. 22nd

  13. Moving Forward • Continue to work with various stakeholders to obtain the optimal outcome for every juvenile court involved child in CT (individualized justice as defined earlier) • Learning, and when appropriate, integrating into judicial policy and procedure new advances in social and neuro science (societal intervention—the armor v. fMRI) • Ongoing data collection and analysis sets up ‘problem solving’; core function of juvenile court • Three Branch Initiative launch in 2014—mission to work on permanency, supportive housing and mental health


  15. Questions?