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Juvenile Justice Task Force


September 26, 1997 - 1:00 p.m. - Room 303, State Capitol

Members Present:
    Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard, Senate Chair     
    Sen. Joseph L. Hull
    Rep. John B. Arrington
    Rep. Blake D. Chard
    Mr. Gary K. Dalton
    Mr. David J. Jordan
    Hon. Andrew A. Valdez
    Mr. Russ Van Vleet
    Ms. Robin Arnold Williams    

Members Absent:
    Rep. Christine R. Fox, House Chair     Sen. Nathan C. Tanner    
    Rep. Steve Barth
    Rep. J. Brent Haymond

Staff Present:
Ms. Chyleen A. Arbon,
     Research Analyst
    Ms. Esther D. Chelsea-McCarty,      Associate General Counsel
    Ms. Glenda S. Whitney,

     Note:    A list of others present and a copy of materials distributed in the meeting are on file in the         Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.

1.    Call to Order and Task Force Business - Chair Hillyard called the meeting to order at 1:13 p.m. He informed the task force that Sen. Tanner, Rep. Barth, and Rep. Fox had asked to be excused from the meeting.

     MOTION: Mr. Dalton moved to approve the minutes of the August 15, 1997 meeting. The motion passed unanimously with Rep. Chard and Judge Valdez absent for the vote.

2.    "Turning Criminal Kids into Good Citizens: New Treatment for Childhood Trauma and Crime"

Dr. Susan Mirow, Consultant, Division of Youth Corrections, presented a slide overview and distributed a handout, "Turning Criminal Kids Into Good Citizens." Her presentation explained a new treatment for childhood trauma and crime.

    She indicated that within the Division of Youth Corrections there are many good programs for youth such as victim awareness, substance abuse, and anger management. She said that each program is necessary but not sufficient because they all deal with learning behaviors. She emphasized that what is driving the youth's behavior is their own hurt and pain. The youth have to get in touch with their pain and master it. She presented a video of a song, "Trauma Rap," performed by two youth at Decker Lake expressing their feelings: "I've grown up in a world oh so cold, I've grown up livin' on my own." She noted that the song is about their hurt, pain, acting out in violence, and feeling abandoned by society. The young man in the video does not care about himself or anybody else, would probably do just about anything to anyone, and would not mind dying in the process. She called this trauma.

    Dr. Mirow said these young people have experienced much trauma, and indicated she has been keeping records in a data base on the youth that she has worked with during the last five years. She reported that 85 to 90 percent of these young people have been witnesses and/or victims of extensive violence. The violence includes alcoholism, neglect, all kinds of child abuse, watching their mothers being beaten, and watching people on the streets getting shot. She said this violence has gone on for years, causing the youth a severe disorder. However, she emphasized that the disorder can be treated. She pointed out that as a psychiatrist, she helps change the way people feel about the past: she helps change the influence of the past on the present and therefore on the future.

    Dr. Mirow said she was impressed with the treatment that different states were implementing. She believes that in Utah the missing piece, which is the youth's experiences they hide, needs to be put in an effective intervention model in all phases of Youth Corrections' programs. She indicated that California put an intervention model in place with the youth authorities and Colorado has an experimental program on line.        
    Mr. Van Vleet asked what part is missing? Dr. Mirow responded that several parts are missing. She indicated that there is a very specific treatment piece missing which is the action of group therapy that deals with the youth's trauma. She has seen it work in New Hampshire and Georgia and will continue to study their progress. She also suggested that early intervention was important to the process.

    Judge Valdez indicated he has received diagnoses of post traumatic stress disorder for children that are three and four years old. He said if this treatment is going to work, it has to start with the dependent, neglected, and abused children. By the time they get to Decker Lake, the children have been victimized so many times that the concept of limits is almost nonexistent. He did not know if the youth could be turned around at that level without some intensive family- based trauma therapy. He also suggested that meaningful rehabilitation with respect to job training and skills is missing.

3.    Secure Care Youth

Mr. John Dewitt, Division of Youth Corrections, distributed a handout, "Secure Care Youth," from which he gave his presentation. He reported there were 115 youth terminated from Youth Corrections' custody during FY 1996. Prior to termination, each youth had been committed one or more times to a secure facility. For most of these youth, secure confinement was followed by a period of supervised parole and then termination from Youth Corrections' custody. He discussed data collected on these 115 youth in regard to their demographics, first secure care commitment, program placements, and outcomes.

    Judge Valdez expressed concern with the data on the placements during commitment, indicating that most youth do not spend the 7.8 months in secure care. He asked for a percentage break down on those that have spent six months, nine months, or less than a year in a secure facility. Mr. Dewitt will provide the task force with this information.

    Mr. Jordan asked when or where in the placement process a reoffense occurs. Mr. Dewitt responded that most likely it is during the community placement or parole. Mr. Dewitt will also provide this information for the task force for review.

    Mr. Van Vleet referred to page 17 of the handout, "Reoffending: first commitment termination." He asked Mr. Dewitt to submit additional information about the two groups of youth that are committing offenses. He said Mr. Dewitt verified that a very small number of youth commit the majority of the offenses. Mr. Van Vleet requested some type of profile information from the offending district on both groups discussed and also the length of stay of those particular youth.

    Mr. Dalton said if the task force is going to look at data on time frames or the length of stay, it would be helpful to have a representative from the Youth Parole Authority present to the task force how the guidelines have been developed and how those decisions for length of stay are derived.

    Chair Hillyard commented that he met with the governor, agency directors, and others in the judicial system and talked about the direction of the Juvenile Justice Task Force. It was recognized that reorganizing the Juvenile Justice System would not take place at this time; instead four areas were suggested for further focus: 1) POST certification; 2) jurisdictional age; 3) executive branch streamlining report; and 4) line-item funding of sentencing guidelines appropriation.

4.    Jurisdictional Age

Mr. Gary K. Dalton, Director, Division of Youth Corrections, distributed the handout "Age of Jurisdiction." He said the ideal situation would be to have a fully resourced continuum of care in the system for children from a young age up to 21. He said there has been some discussion about expanding jurisdiction beyond 21. He pointed out that adult corrections handles those young people now and at one time had a serious youth offender facility that was targeted to be used for that type of youth. He further explained that the pressure and need for beds has changed that proposition. Without a fully resourced continuum of care, they lack the type of resources needed to properly supervise this population.

    Mr. Dalton suggested changing the age of jurisdiction for Youth Corrections from 21 to 18. He explained that those youth committed to secure care or a community placement prior to turning 18 would be held for their full term or until they turn 19.

    Mr. Dalton projected that of the 190 youth at DYC, about 50 would be kept back under this scenario. He figured that 140 youth multiplied by $88 per day, which is the average cost of care, equals $4.4 million that DYC would save in dropping the age from 21 to 18. This change also frees up additional beds in the facilities. He spoke against having 10 and 11 year olds in the custody of DYC because they do not respond to a correctional model and indicated they need a treatment model. He said the compromise would be to give up the 19 to 21 year olds and pick up the 10 and 11 year olds.

    Judge Valdez said that the 10, 11, and 12 year olds would not be in a correctional model but would be in a medical and treatment model at DYC. He indicated there is not much difference between the access DCFS and DYC have for that age group. They are basically contracting with the same private providers in a lot of cases.

    With respect to the reduction of the jurisdictional age to 18, Judge Valdez indicated that Judge Foreman from Phoenix, Arizona is dissatisfied with that happening in his state. The concern is that the youth are not going to receive any services and the public is not going to be protected.

    Mr. Dalton responded by identifying another alternative which is the Colorado model that suggests that youth who are certified or tried as an adult be given an adult sentence, but then be held back in a youth corrections program. If the youth could not successfully complete the juvenile program, the stay would be lifted and he or she would automatically go to prison.

    Judge Hans Q. Chamberlain, Chair, Board of Juvenile Court Judges, said that the Juvenile Board of Judges took a position that they did not oppose reducing the jurisdictional age from 12 down to 10, but rather strongly opposed reducing it from 21 to 18. The opposition primarily stems from the concern that programs will not be in place for those who turn 18. Judges feel that they have a vested interest in each youth that they deal with and want to work with the youth and keep them in the system as long as they can until there is an expectation that the youth has succeeded.

    Mr. Michael Phillips, Deputy Juvenile Court Administrator, commented on the study that looked at youth who had served at least one sentence in a secure facility and who turned 21 in 1993, 1994, or 1995. They found that about 60 percent of these youth were in the Utah State Prison. He said the study is available to the task force.
    Ms. Chris Mitchell, Department of Corrections, said that corrections did not have any objections to Youth Corrections' proposal. She indicated that the adult system would most likely see these youth at some point down the road, and that this proposal would probably just speed up the process.

Mr. Jordan asked Judge Valdez and Judge Chamberlain to comment on the Colorado model. Judge Valdez said that most of the judges he had talked to from New Mexico and Colorado liked the model. He said the other states are having some success with the model and that he did not have any problems with the model. Judge Chamberlain responded that he did not have enough information about the Colorado or New Mexico model to make a recommendation at this time.

Mr. Pat Nolan, Cache County Attorney's Office, indicated that the prosecutors would be concerned with prosecuting a youth who was getting close to 18 and was going to be released as soon as his birthday arrives. He stressed that there are a lot of serious crimes being committed by 16 and 17 year olds, and he would be reluctant to see the inability of sanctions to continue past their 18th birthday. Another concern is that prosecutors are required to prosecute anyone who commits a crime under the age of 18 up until their 21st birthday. He said they need the ability to prosecute those youth and provide sanctions. Under the proposed change, prosecutors would not have any recourse against a youth prosecuted at age 20 for a crime committed at age 17.

    Mr. Van Vleet expressed concern with turning this over to the district judges. He said if we are talking about some type of juvenile justice then it should not be expected to occur in the district court, but rather in the juvenile court.

    Mr. Wayne Holland stated that after 21 years with DYC, a system is currently in place to deal with youth who should not be in the juvenile system. There is certification, the serious youth offender law, and automatic discharge or termination after 18 if the youth reoffends. There are those youth between 18 and 21 who for whatever reason do become good citizens. He said we ought to give them that opportunity.

    Ms. Williams responded to lowering the jurisdictional age from 12 to 10. She pointed out that neither DYC nor DCFS is able to properly deal with this population. She did not have a recommendation at this time, but recognized that the population needed to be focused on. Ms. SueCarol Robinson, Office of Education, recommended from an educational perspective that the younger population should not be part of DYC.

5.    POST Certification

Rep. Blake D. Chard presented a brief history on the POST certification issue. He said that during the 1996 General Session, the Legislature enacted H.B. 383 requiring the

Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice(CCJJ) to study the issue of correctional officers in the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) statute. The question driving the study was a reference to "youth corrections." He asked Mr. Dalton to explain the recommendations from the various people that conducted the studies.

    Mr. Gary K. Dalton, Director, Division of Youth Corrections, distributed the handout "DYC Position Paper on Correctional Officer Status." He said that after thorough review, a summary of the recommendations was presented to CCJJ. While the recommendations were generally favorable to the inclusion of Youth Correction employees and probation officers in POST certification, the primary recommendation was that the director of Youth Corrections and the State Court Administrator should designate which employees and private provider employees should be POST certified.

    Mr. Dalton reviewed the following Board of Youth Corrections' recommendations: 1) remove the reference to "youth corrections" from the POST statute; 2) hire special function officers into targeted positions in DYC; and 3) enhance DYC's training package and bring all full-time staff through the agency's basic academy.

    Chair Hillyard reviewed the meeting schedule and concluded that the Juvenile Justice Task Force will meet on October 24, 1997 and November 14, 1997.
6.    Adjournment -

Ms. Williams moved to adjourn the meeting at 4:03 p.m. The motion passed unanimously with Sen. Hull and Judge Valdez absent for the vote.

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