Juvenile Justice Reform Act

Summary: The Juvenile Justice Reform Act combines three urgent reforms. Section 2 restricts the use of pretrial confinement to young offenders who pose a danger to society or who may flee from justice. Section 3 allows judges to transfer defendants from juvenile to adult courts based only upon consideration of specific criteria. And Section 4 protects accused children in court proceedings by ensuring that they do not waive their constitutional right to counsel.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act.”

SECTION 2. JUVENILE DETENTION REFORM

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) STANDARD FOR APPROVING DETENTION

1. A child taken into custody for an alleged criminal act shall not be placed in pretrial detention unless a detention risk assessment instrument determines that the child:

a. Poses a substantial risk of harm to others; or

b. Has demonstrated that there is a substantial risk that he or she may leave the jurisdiction of the court.

2. If a juvenile is placed into pretrial detention, a judge of the [Juvenile Court] shall, within 24 hours after the placement, consider the risk assessment instrument and review the appropriateness of pretrial detention. The Court shall not approve a placement in pretrial detention unless the state has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that:

a. The child poses a substantial risk of harm to others or has demonstrated that there is a substantial risk that he or she may leave the jurisdiction of the court; and

b. No lesser custodial restrictions would serve as an effective alternative to pretrial detention.

3. If the Court approves a placement in pretrial detention, the placement decision shall be reviewed by the Court at any pretrial conference.

4. The Department [of Juvenile Justice] shall develop and implement a detention risk assessment instrument. The instrument will be designed to reflect input from the child’s family, social workers, law enforcement personnel, and the Department’s staff and advisors.

(B) CONDITIONS OF DETENTION

1. Pretrial detention shall not take place at any long-term facility for adjudicated delinquents.

2. A person older than 18 shall not be detained in a juvenile detention facility.

3. Publicly-funded counsel shall be made available to the juvenile and the juvenile’s family upon completion of the risk assessment instrument and before the point at which any detention hearing is held.

SECTION 3. JUVENILE TRANSFERS

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) COURT HEARING—When a juvenile is charged with committing an act which would be a [Class A, B or C/serious felony] if committed by an adult, upon request of the prosecuting attorney, the court shall hold a hearing to determine whether the case should be transferred from the jurisdiction of Juvenile Court to the [Superior/adult] Court.

(B) RIGHTS ADVISED—The court shall advise the juvenile and his or her parents, guardian or legal custodian of the possible consequences of a transfer, the right to be represented by counsel, and other constitutional and legal rights.

(C) FACTORS FOR TRANSFER—The court shall transfer the case from the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court to the [Superior/adult] Court if it finds that the state has established by a preponderance of the evidence that such transfer is appropriate, based upon consideration of the following factors:

1. Seriousness of the crime—the nature and seriousness of the offense, with greater weight being given to offenses against a person than against property; whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or intentional manner.

2. Characteristics of the juvenile—the record and previous history of the juvenile; the age of the juvenile; the juvenile’s emotional attitude and pattern of living.

3. Public safety—whether the protection of the community requires commitment of the juvenile for a period longer than the greatest commitment authorized by juvenile criminal law; whether the protection of the community requires commitment of the juvenile to a facility that is more secure than any available in the juvenile correctional system.

4. Rehabilitation—whether future criminal conduct by the juvenile is more likely to be deterred by programs and services available in the juvenile correctional system or in the adult correctional system.

SECTION 4. CHILD WAIVER OF COUNSEL PROHIBITED

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

Waiver of Right to Counsel—A juvenile’s right to counsel may not be waived at any court proceeding.

OR ALTERNATIVELY…

Waiver of Right to Counsel

(A) A court shall deny a juvenile’s waiver of counsel unless all of the following conditions are met:

1. The waiver occurs in the presence of and after consultation with counsel.

2. The waiver is executed on the record in open court and in writing.

3. The waiver is executed in language regularly spoken by the juvenile.

4. The court conducts a full inquiry into the youth’s comprehension of that right and his or her capacity to make the choice knowingly and intelligently.

5. Stand-by counsel is appointed.

(B) After a juvenile waives the right to counsel, at each later stage of court proceedings at which the youth appears without counsel, the court shall renew the offer of counsel.

SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on July 1, 20XX.


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