Juvenile Specialty Courts: An Examination of Rehabilitative Justice in Texas and Across the Nation

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2 Juvenile Specialty Courts: An Examination of Rehabilitative Justice in Texas and Across the Nation You can build bigger prisons or you can build better families. You can build stronger children or you can try to fix broken ones. Those are the options that we have. 1 Judge Robert Herrera Dallas Juvenile Mental Health Court 1

3 RESEARCH & PRODUCTION TEAM Robert Sanborn, Ed.D. President & CEO Mandi Sheridan Kimball, M.S.W. Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs Dawn Lew, J.D. Senior Staff Attorney Kavita C. Desai, J.D. Staff Attorney Todd J. Latiolais, J.D. Staff Attorney Lauren Hislop Juvenile Justice Summer Institute Fellow Jasmine Reed Juvenile Justice Summer Institute Fellow Emma Sholl Juvenile Justice Summer Institute Fellow Caleb Thornton Juvenile Justice Summer Institute Fellow Cynthia Akatugba Graduate Law Fellow Farrah Lang Graduate Law Fellow Elizabeth Miguez Graduate Law Fellow 2014 Printed in Houston, TX Design and Layout by Squidz Ink Design 2

4 ABOUT CHILDREN AT RISK CHILDREN AT RISK is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for Texas children through strategic research, public policy analysis, innovation, legal action, community education, and collaboration. The organization began in 1989 when a group of child advocates met to discuss the lack of data on the status of children and the absence of strong public policy support for Houston s children. Through its biennial publication, Growing Up in Houston: Assessing the Quality of Life of Our Children, CHILDREN AT RISK tracks over 140 indicators measuring the quality of life of kids in our community. CHILDREN AT RISK has evolved from an organization researching the multitude of obstacles our children face into one that also drives macro-level change to better the future for Texas children. Through its Public Policy & Law Center, CHILDREN AT RISK uses policy and legal expertise as a powerful tool to drive change for kids. In recent years, CHILDREN AT RISK has grown exponentially in its capacity to speak out and drive change for children and has become the premier resource on children s issues among major media outlets, public officials, and the non-profit sector. ABOUT THE TEXAS BAR FOUNDATION The Texas Bar Foundation solicits charitable contributions and provides funding to enhance the rule of law and the system of justice in Texas, especially for programs that relate to the administration of justice; ethics in the legal profession; legal assistance for the needy; the encouragement of legal research, publications and forums; and the education of the public. The Texas Bar Foundation is the largest charitably funded bar foundation in the nation. Membership is composed of the most elite Texas attorneys. The Foundation s members are nominated because of their dedication to the administration of justice and high professional standing among his or her peers. For more than four decades, the Texas Bar Foundation has helped organizations to: educate the public about their rights and responsibilities under the law; provide legal services to the poor; and assist those who turn to the legal system for protection. Grants are made possible by the generosity of Fellows and charitable gifts from individuals and law firms across the state. The Texas Bar Foundation and its members are committed to the mission of Advancing Justice in Texas by providing opportunities to support the rule of law in Texas. 3

5 OVERVIEW I. INTRODUCTION II. JUVENILE DRUG COURTS III. JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS IV. JUVENILE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION COURTS V. JUVENILE GANG COURTS VI. JUVENILE DIVERSION MALE COURTS VII. JUVENILE FAMILY AND VIOLENCE COURTS VIII. CONCLUSION TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION...12 A. TEXAS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM History and Development of the Texas Juvenile Justice System Juvenile Offenders Versus Adult Criminals B. OVERVIEW OF JUVENILES IN THE TEXAS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM Referrals Physical Demographics Dispositions C. OVERVIEW OF JUVENILE SPECIALTY COURTS Specialty Court Models Referral Selection Non-adversarial Approach Benefits Safeguards Recommendations D. METHODOLOGY Preliminary Resources Primary Resources Limitations E. OVERVIEW OF JUVENILE SPECIALTY COURTS IN TEXAS Drug Courts Mental Health Courts Sexual Exploitation Courts Gang Courts Diversion Male Courts Family and Violence Courts i. Dual Jurisdiction Courts

6 ii. Parent Action Court iii. Teen Dating Violence Court...30 II. JUVENILE DRUG COURTS A. HISTORY OF JUVENILE DRUG COURTS B. THE STANDARD JUVENILE DRUG COURT MODEL Establishment and Administration...32 i. General Approach...32 ii. Drug Court Team iii. Funding Participants Referral and Eligibility Program Requirements Incentives and Sanctions Services Graduation and Aftercare...37 C. TEXAS JUVENILE DRUG COURTS Texas State Models...38 i. Bexar County Juvenile Drug Court: San Antonio, Texas...39 a. Program b. Participant Profiles and Outcomes...40 ii. El Paso County Juvenile Drug Court: El Paso, Texas...42 a. Program b. Participant Profiles and Outcomes...43 iii. Tarrant County Juvenile Drug Court Program: Fort Worth,Texas...44 a. Program b. Participant Profiles and Outcomes...46 iv. Montgomery County Power Recovery Court: Greater Houston Area, Texas...47 a. Program b. Participant Profiles and Outcomes...48 D. OUT OF STATE JUVENILE DRUG COURT MODELS Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Courts: Baltimore, Maryland i. Various Locations...49 ii. Evidentiary Hearing to Discuss Grounds for Termination...49 iii. Steering Committee Snohomish County Juvenile Drug Court: Snohomish, Washington...50 i. Opt-In Period West Virginia Juvenile Drug Courts...51 i. Data Collection

7 E. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Stricter Adherence to Evidence-Based Policies and Procedures Reconsider the Population and Strategy Conduct a Full Outcome and Cost Study of Juvenile Drug Courts in Texas Communication Across the State III. JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS A. INTRODUCTION...55 B. MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM...57 C. THE STANDARD JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURT MODEL Establishment and Administration Referral and Eligibility Juvenile Mental Health Court Program Characteristics...60 D. BENEFITS AND CONCERNS OF JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS E. JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS IN TEXAS Travis County Collaborative Opportunities for Positive Experiences (COPE): Austin, TX i. Establishment and Administration...63 ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements...65 iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare...66 vi. Participant Profiles and Outcomes El Paso County Special Needs Divisionary Program (SNDP) El Paso, Texas i. Establishment and Administration...69 ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements...71 iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare...73 vi. Participant Profiles and Outcomes Harris County Juvenile Mental Health Court: Houston, Texas...76 i. Establishment and Administration...76 ii. Referrals and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements...77 iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare...77 vi. Participant Profiles and Outcomes Bexar County Crossroads Program: San Antonio, Texas...79 i. Establishment and Administration...79 ii. Referrals and Eligibility

8 iii. Program Requirements...81 iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare...82 vi. Participant Profiles and Outcomes Dallas County Juvenile Mental Health Court: Dallas, Texas...85 i. Establishment and Administration...85 ii. Referrals and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements...88 iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare...89 vi. Participant Profiles and Outcomes F. OUT OF STATE JUVENILE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS Alameda County Juvenile Collaborative Court (ACJC): San Leondro, California Summit County Crossroads Program: Summit County, Ohio G. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Track Effectiveness of Program Create a Standardized Measure of Recidivism Advocate and Publicize Juvenile Mental Health Court Ensure an Aftercare Plan is in Place Before Child Leaves Program Develop an Assessment Tool to Measure the Connection between Mental Illness and Delinquent Behavior Communicate and Collaborate with other Juvenile Mental Health Court. Programs Within the State IV. JUVENILE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION COURTS...96 A. INTRODUCTION...96 B. THE STANDARD JUVENILE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION COURT MODEL...97 C. TEXAS JUVENILE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION COURTS Harris County Growing Independence Restoring Lives (GIRLS) Court: Houston, Texas i. Establishment and Administration...99 ii. Practice...99 iii. Outcomes Dallas County Experiencing Success Through Empowerment, Encouragement, and Mentoring (ESTEEM) Court: Dallas, Texas i. Establishment and Administration ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements iv. Services v. Graduation and Aftercare vi. Outcomes

9 3. Bexar County Restore Court: San Antonio, Texas i. Establishment and Administration ii. Practice iii. Graduation and Aftercare iv. Outcomes D. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS V. JUVENILE GANG COURTS A. INTRODUCTION B. TEXAS JUVENILE GANG COURT Harris County Gang Recidivism Intervention Program (GRIP): Houston, Texas i. Establishment ii. Practice iii. Outcomes iv. Program Summary C. OUT OF STATE JUVENILE GANG COURT MODEL Yakima County Juvenile Gang Court: Yakima, Washington i. Establishment ii. Practice a. Evaluation b. Implementation c. Stabilization d. Maintenance iii. Outcomes iv. Recent Legislation D. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS VI. JUVENILE DIVERSION MALE COURTS A. INTRODUCTION B. RACE AND THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM C. TEXAS JUVENILE DIVERSION MALE COURT Dallas County Diversion Male Court: Dallas, Texas i. Participants ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements iv. Outcomes D. OUT OF STATE DIVERSION MALE COURT MODELS Baltimore County: Pre-Adjudication Coordination and Transition (PACT) Center: Baltimore, Maryland i. Participants

10 ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements iv. Outcomes Wayne County Correction Course Diversion Program: Detroit, Michigan i. Participants ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements iv. Outcomes E. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS VII. JUVENILE FAMILY AND VIOLENCE COURTS A. INTRODUCTION B. TEXAS JUVENILE FAMILY COURTS Bexar County Family Enrichment Court: San Antonio, Texas i. Establishment and Participants ii. Referral and Eligibility iii. Program Requirements iv. Outcomes C. TEXAS CROSSOVER COURTS Introduction Georgetown Model Texas Crossover Courts i. Travis County Crossover Court: Austin, Texas ii. El Paso County Crossover Court: El Paso, Texas iii. Bexar County Crossover Court: San Antonio, Texas iv. Tarrant County Crossover Court: Fort Worth, Texas Recent Legislation VIII. CONCLUSION

11 FOREWORD BY DR. ROBERT SANBORN, ED.D. PRESIDENT & CEO, CHILDREN AT RISK Every kid deserves to have a childhood. Unfortunately, many of our kids have to contend with experiences and environments that force them to grow up far too quickly. Our children certainly do not need us to push adulthood on them. But how do we treat our kids when they make bad choices? Most of us, and the research, would agree they should be held to a different standard than adults when answering for their actions, but we don t always give our children the opportunities for rehabilitation that they need. Children undergo major physiological changes before adulthood, and their continuing brain development sometimes hinders their ability to make responsible decisions. The consensus of scientific research and American caselaw is that children are not only less culpable for their offenses but also more amenable to rehabilitation than adults. Consequently, our nation has developed a juvenile justice system that is distinct from the adult criminal justice system. This system seeks to protect the community and hold youth accountable for their actions, but it recognizes that children are developmentally different from adults and therefore rehabilitation and treatment are primary goals. From a historical perspective, our current approach to juvenile justice is still relatively young. Under the English common law, children under the age of seven were presumed incapable of committing crimes because they had not yet reached the age of reason for proper moral discernment. Once they turned eight years old, children could be punished in the same manner as adults even be sentenced to death though there was a rebuttable presumption of their inability to commit a crime until the age of fourteen. Around the turn of the twentieth century, states started to develop separate juvenile justice systems to handle young offenders, and it has been less than one hundred years since Texas raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction from thirteen to seventeen and replaced criminal charges against youth with civil procedures. In recent years, our state created the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and policies have trended toward the use of community-based 10

12 alternatives. Throughout the country, and here in the state of Texas, courts and communities are finding innovative ways to handle juvenile offenders. One tool that is gaining traction is the use of specialty courts. These courts focus on the underlying problem that caused or contributed to the offender s behavior and seek to treat that issue through wraparound services. Rather than put the child through an adversarial proceeding, specialty courts assemble a team of concerned adults to help formulate and execute a plan for the child s success. The model started with juvenile drug courts in the early 1990s, but more recently, jurisdictions have implemented mental health courts, sex trafficking courts, gang courts, and courts that address disproportionate minority contact to attend to the varied needs of juvenile offenders. A research team from CHILDREN AT RISK looked at specialty court models across the country and took an inventory of juvenile specialty courts in Texas. We found that Texas is a leader in the juvenile specialty court movement with numerous and diverse specialty court models. These courts have the potential to provide crucial therapeutic intervention and reduce rates of recidivism while saving taxpayer dollars; however, as the use of these courts expands, it is important to monitor their methodology and analyze their effectiveness. We hope this publication will be a valuable resource for legislators, policymakers, the judiciary, and communities to use in further improving our juvenile justice system. We look forward to continuing our work with these stakeholders to ensure we have a juvenile justice system which keeps our communities safe but also seeks rehabilitation above retribution. Hug your kids, Dr. Robert Sanborn, Ed.D. President & CEO CHILDREN AT RISK 11

13 I. INTRODUCTION Prior to the 1900s, juvenile offenders in Texas were processed in the adult criminal system. Since that time, the juvenile justice system has undergone extensive reforms, and today, certain juvenile offenders in Texas have the option of participating in a juvenile specialty court. This report contains an inventory of all the juvenile specialty courts in Texas, describes each specialty court program, and evaluates the effectiveness of juvenile specialty courts. The report begins with a brief section describing the history of the Texas juvenile justice system, then discusses the different types of juvenile specialty courts in detail, and concludes with recommendations on how to improve the operation of juvenile specialty courts in the state. A. TEXAS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM 1. History and Development of the Texas Juvenile Justice System The history of the juvenile justice system in Texas can be split into two phases. The first phase consisted of developing a working system, and the second involved reforming the system after general guidelines were established. The development phase lasted over one hundred years, from 1836 to During this time, the juvenile justice system shifted away from punishing anyone seven years and older as an adult, to a completely separate civil system governing juveniles ages ten to seventeen. Until 1856, Texas criminal law punished children seven years and older as adults. In 1856, state law raised the age of criminal responsibility to nine. 2 Three years later, in an unfunded bill, the legislature authorized the separation of incarcerated juveniles and adults into different facilities. 3 In 1887, the legislature provided funds that helped establish the Gatesville State School for Boys which opened in Gatesville housed juvenile boys serving sentences of less than five years, and all other juveniles were sent to the penitentiary or to local jails. 5 Texas Juvenile Justice History 6 Age of criminal responsibility is 8 Gatesville School for Boys opens Age of criminal responsbility raised to 17 Texas Youth Council created (later Texas Youth Commission) McKeiver v. Pennsylvania Morales v. Truman Legislature authorizes separate facilities for juveniles Juvenile Court Act Special civil proceedings for juvenile cases In re Gault: due process rights for juveniles First Juvenile Drug Court in Texas 12

14 Although some of the detention facilities were now separated, Texas did not establish a separate juvenile court system until 1907, 7 eight years after the first juvenile court in the nation was established. 8 Soon after the establishment of Texas juvenile court system, it became increasingly clear that the adult criminal justice system was ill-equipped to deal with the unique issues presented by juvenile offenders. In 1918, the Texas State Legislature raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction from thirteen to seventeen, where it currently stands. 9 In 1943, the legislature recognized that juvenile offenses were inherently different from adult crimes and passed the Juvenile Court Act, which classified juvenile proceedings as civil rather than criminal. 10 As Texas grew in population, it became necessary to expand and formalize the juvenile justice system. 11 In 1957, the legislature created the Texas Youth Council (TYC), renamed the Texas Youth Commission in 1983, and charged it with the responsibility of operating Texas delinquent youth facilities and providing parole supervision for certain delinquent youths until their discharge. 12 The establishment of TYC and the issues that ensued marks the transition from development to reform. During the late sixties and early seventies, the country started to take notice of juvenile issues and litigate reforms at a national level. 13 In 1967, the Supreme Court decided the landmark case, In Re Gault. 14 This case extended the right to counsel, notice of charges, confronting witnesses, and privilege against selfincrimination to juveniles in criminal proceedings. 15 Many juvenile rights advocates heralded the ruling, embracing the extension of critical constitutional rights to juveniles and the limits on the discretion of juvenile court judges. 16 However, unlike in adult criminal cases, the rights were not extended to pretrial, sentencing, or post adjudicatory proceedings. 17 Judges in juvenile cases were now bound to many of the same due process restrictions as in adult proceedings. Four years later, in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the Court held that jury trials were not required by the constitution for juvenile proceedings. 18 Although Gault extended many adult criminal constitutional protections to juveniles, the juvenile justice system has maintained significant differences from adult proceedings. 19 At the time of the McKeiver decision, Texas was also facing a class action lawsuit, Morales v. Truman, about the constitutional requirements of its main juvenile justice institution, the Texas Youth Council. 20 The class action lawsuit brought by past, present, and future juveniles held in TYC custody involved the rights of attorneys to talk to clients held in TYC custody. 21 The court s investigations revealed additional constitutional violations by TYC during the adjudication and detention phases of a case. 22 The district court specified in detail the types of treatment programs TYC needed to provide to incarcerated juveniles in order to conform with the constitution s requirements. 23 The state eventually reached a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in As a result of Morales, TYC implemented several programs to improve the services for juveniles in its custody including increasing the number of halfway houses and authorizing community-based care. 24 The litigation also prompted the adoption of Title 3 of the Texas Family Code, the current law governing juvenile justice issues. 25 Gault, McKeiver, and Morales provided guidelines on how juvenile justice systems should operate and 13

15 instituted certain constitutional protections for juveniles, while also highlighting the fact that juveniles are different from adults and should be treated as such. 2. Juvenile Offenders versus Adult Criminals The differences between juveniles and adults necessitate different approaches of the juvenile and criminal justice system. The juvenile justice system treats juveniles differently from adults because juveniles are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally. 26 Studies have shown that the human brain does not finish developing until a person s mid-twenties 27 and this may cause juveniles to have difficulty estimating risks, regulating emotions, or controlling their behavior. 28 Juvenile law takes into account that juveniles are less adept at anticipating and appreciating the consequences of their conduct than adults, tailoring the state s responses to juvenile delinquency accordingly. Modifying laws based on maturity levels is not a new concept. Individuals under the age of eighteen are generally recognized by society as less mature than adults. 29 Juveniles are not allowed to vote, join the military, gamble, or participate in a jury. 30 An entire class of crimes, known as status offenses, is only deemed criminal activity because of the individual s age for instance truancy, running away, violating curfew, and drinking alcohol. 31 Adults also face harsher repercussions than juveniles even after they have served their sentences, including restrictions on voting rights, military service, and job opportunities. 32 The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that juveniles are still developing and should be held to a different standard of accountability. 33 Within the last decade, the Court decided three cases in which it relied on developmental research to make decisions about juvenile jurisprudence. 34 In 2005, the Court held in Roper v. Simmons that subjecting youth to capital punishment for crimes they committed while under the age of eighteen violated the Eighth Amendment s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. 35 Graham v. Florida, in 2010, extended the Court s reasoning in Roper and held that life without parole was unconstitutional for youth convicted of non-homicide offenses. 36 In Miller v. Alabama, in 2012, the Court further expanded that rationale by holding that a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional for children under eighteen, regardless of the crime. 37 In each case, the court cited bodies of sociological and scientific research that found that juveniles lacked a sense of responsibility and maturity compared to adults. Although bound by the rulings of Roper, Graham, and Miller, Texas still imposes fairly harsh punishments on children convicted of serious crimes. Texas is one of only about a dozen states that sets the age of criminal responsibility at 17 the vast majority of states set the age at The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that offenders over the age of seventeen will continue to face adult penalties regardless of dicta in Roper saying that juveniles do not automatically mature when they reach eighteen. 39 Moreover, the Fifth Circuit ruled that courts in its jurisdiction may use juvenile offenses to elevate a murder charge to capital murder in adult proceedings. 40 Finally, the Texas Legislature recently passed a 14

16 measure to bring Texas law in line with the Supreme Court s ruling in Miller v. Alabama. 41 The statute mandates a sentence of life, with the possibility of parole after 40 years, for all children under the age of 18 convicted of a capital offense. 42 While constitutional, the severity of this sentence demonstrates the strictness with which Texas treats juveniles who commit serious offenses. B. OVERVIEW OF JUVENILES IN THE TEXAS JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) was established in December 2011 by Senate Bill 653 as a replacement of the separate entities, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) and the Texas Youth Commission (TYC). 43 TJJD serves Texas children by focusing on accountability and rehabilitation. 44 The following demographic information is a summary of the agency s statistical report, The State of Juvenile Probation Activity in Texas Calendar Years 2009 & Referrals During 2010, 61,619 juveniles were referred to juvenile probation. 46 Most of the referrals were concentrated in counties with large populations; many of Texas smaller counties had less than 100 referrals per year. 47 Generally, the number of referrals has decreased over the last eight years, in spite of the increase in overall population. 48 Trends of Referral vs Juvenile Population 49 POPULATION 2,500, ,000 2,300, ,250 2,100, ,500 1,900,000 93,750 REFERRALS Juvenile Population Age YEAR Formal Referrals The majority of youthful offenders are referred for misdemeanors, violations of probation, or child in need of supervision (CINS) charges, while only 21% of offenders are referred for felonies. 50 CINS charges are generally attached to offenses that are only criminal because of the age of the child, such as running away. 51 Fifty-two percent of the children referred to TJJD in 2010 had at least one prior referral

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