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!
We missed last week, but we’re back with lots of information!
P.S. Some links were broken, so made a little update! Happy Friday!
Tip of the Week
All About The Records:
There is a universe of documented information about your client. First, review and obtain copies of the clerks file, the official record of the court. Get a copy of the NC Juvenile Online Information Network (NC-JOIN) file from the court counselor’s office. You don’t need a court order for this (7B-3001(c)(1)) but we have a form to help expedite the request. Obtain a release form(s) from your client and the parent/guardian, and go hunting! Educational records, mental health records, involvement with the Department of Social Service, placement records. You may also consider housing or employment documentation if it helps your case.
There were two new published opinions last month, one from the NC Supreme Court and the other from the Court of Appeals. In the Matter of T.T.E., decided by the Supreme Court, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision vacating the juvenile’s adjudication and disposition orders of disorderly conduct. Justice Earls wrote a lengthy dissent, which is worth reading.
In the Matter of J.B., the Court of Appeals, in a divided opinion, reversed the trial court’s adjudication and disposition orders for second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, first degree forcible sexual offense, and an attempted larceny admission. The Court also addressed the juvenile’s right to confrontation, the commitment of the juvenile to YDC, and confinement pending appeal. You can find the summary for In the Matter of T.T.E.here, and In the Matter of J.B. here.
Strategies for Youth, an organization bridging gaps and building relationships between law enforcement and youth, has a BRAND NEWwebsite filled with information and resources on the intersection of police and youth. Visit their page, see the new updates and gain valuable information all at the same time.
Liz Ryan recently published a Newsweek article regarding the impact of starting the conversation about juvenile justice in the ongoing political race. She writes
With strong leadership at the federal level, we can do more for the youth in our communities and finally end youth incarceration. And while many of the most prevalent issues on the debate stage are contentious, there’s widespread support for reforming our youth justice system. According to a national poll by GBA Strategies, Americans overwhelmingly support a shift away from our justice system’s reliance on youth prisons and instead support serving youth through community-based care.
Comment on this post and let us know your thoughts on how the juvenile justice system could benefit from a fight on the national stage. To read the full article, visit here.
The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) recently released Juvenile Defense Resources, a mobile app available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store. Through the mobile app, juvenile defense attorneys can access sample motions, reports, issues briefs, policy statements, checklists, and other helpful tools to grow their legal, advocacy, and leadership skills, and to improve the practice of lawyers that represent young people. There’s also a policy brief on detention and money bail.
Ensuring a child or young person remains out of detention prior to trial safeguards their right to liberty and the presumption of innocence. The resources contained in this toolkit can be used to uphold and advance children’s liberty interests at the individual level and in policy advocacy. Though NC does not have money bail for juveniles, the toolkit provides helpful strategies for arguing for your clients’ release from detention.
Included in the toolkit are:
A Right to Liberty: The Origin of Bail
Annotated Bibliography on Risks Associated with Incarceration
Sample Habeas Petition Challenging the Pretrial Detention of Children