As you may know, courts around the country are limiting or altogether restricting visitation to juvenile detention to combat the spread of COVID-19. While at a base level, important to the safety and physical health of these youth, another issue has come from these sweeping changes: added mental health stress.
You can read this article from The Marshall Project. With the limits on visitation, youth are concerned for their loved ones, parents cannot see their child, and the implications of the restriction are taking an emotional toll on all.
For our NC Defenders who has juveniles in secure custody please read below:
We wanted to pass on some information regarding youth in detention. We have spoken with DJJ and here is what they have relayed:
- all legal visits to the detention centers for juvenile will continue
- attorneys are asked to call the detention center before they visit
- attorneys may be screened for COVID-19 (asked a couple questions) to ensure the safety of the youth and staff
- due to the closure of courts and continuances as a result to Chief Justice Beasley’s Executive Order, DJJ is working to have tele-hearing equipment available by early next week. That equipment is being delivered to the facilities and districts today and may also be available to parents and attorneys to visit electronically with their child/clients in detention in a secure and confidential manner. DJJ said they would let our office know when this option is available.
We understand that some of the detention centers may be filling up, with a reduction in alternatives due to the pandemic. We encourage you to remind the court of low contact options, such as house arrest or electronic monitoring. Check out our website for materials and information about Detention Advocacy here, or call our office and we will get back with you!