Remember back in December when I posted this about St. Joseph County Judge Peter Nemeth? The story then was he refused to send female juveniles to the Indiana Girls School for a variety of complaints.
Well, today’s South Bend Tribune is reporting the Department of Corrections is making some staffing changes that are encouraging to Nemeth. Specifically;
The DOC has announced it will end a two-year-old arrangement to house boys and girls at the same Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility by moving the boys to a recently renovated section of the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility.
Nemeth said he was encouraged by the DOC’s announcement that a “staffing plan for the facility is being developed to ensure the appropriate deployment of staff.”
“If they are actually doing a staffing plan … if it means more than just words, I think that is real progress,” the judge said. “I applaud them for that.
Girls will be moved into the unit being vacated by the boys. The unit will house girls in single rooms that lock from a central control location, along with a special management unit specifically programmed for girls struggling with mental health issues.
“It looks like they are going to do what we want them to do,” said Bill Bruinsma, executive director of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. “We’ll have to see what staffing they’re going to add in and what kind of programming they’re going to put into it … It’s a step in the right direction.”
However, Nemeth doesn’t appear completely sold on the changes…
Nemeth said he still will avoid sending girls to the Indianapolis facility until he knows more details about the changes, especially whether staff-to-child ratios improve. Instead, he said he is sending girls who are the most difficult to rehabilitate to a private juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, at a daily cost to the county of $138, compared to $60 a day at the Indianapolis DOC girls school.
Here are the current bills and resolutions filed in the statehouse this week. The master list has been updated and is here.
HB 1060 — Great Lakes compact.
HB 1061 — Application of landlord-tenant statutes.
HB 1062 — Architectural salvage material dealers.
HB 1064 — Partition fences.
HB 1065 — PERF beneficiary change after divorce.
HB 1066 — Recovery for indirect injury in restraint of trade.
HB 1067 — United States flag protocol for Indiana soldiers.
HB 1068 — Drivers of vehicles carrying school children.
HB 1069 — Local ordinances to reduce speed limits.
HB 1070 — Legislators’ defined contribution plan.
HB 1071 — Funding for voting machine replacement.
HB 1072 — Unlimited lifetime handgun permit endorsements.
HB 1073 — Sales tax exemption for college textbooks.
HB 1074 — Disarming a law enforcement officer.
HB 1075 — Abandoned embryo adoption.
HB 1077 — Funding for local Memorial Day celebrations.
HB 1078 — Redistricting commission.
HB 1079 — Subjects of educational discussion and bargaining.
HB 1080 — Homeowners associations.
HB 1081 — Resisting law enforcement.
HB 1083 — Hoosier Inland Port study.
HB 1084 — Taxation of civil service annuities.
HB 1085 — Whistle stop signs.
HB 1086 — Penalties for failure to pay state taxes.
HB 1088 — Student mobility rates.
HB 1089 — Fire sprinkler contractors and installers.
HB 1090 — Climate registry.
HB 1091 — Growth and development study committee.
HB 1092 — School starting and ending dates.
HB 1093 — Charity gaming.
HB 1094 — Sales tax exemption for vending machine sales.
HB 1096 — Various provisions concerning courts.
HB 1098 — Net metering and interconnection rules.
HB 1099 — Shortfall loans from the common school fund.
HB 1100 — Halloween enticement.
HB 1101 — Utility receipts tax.
HB 1104 — Fire protection district excess property tax levy.
HB 1105 — Transfer of property to fire departments.
HB 1107 — Cultural competency.
HB 1108 — Sheriff’s compensation.
HB 1112 — Learner’s permits and driver’s licenses.
HB 1113 — Birth certificate fraud.
HB 1114 — Town police officer residency.
HB 1115 — Wabash River heritage corridor commission.
HB 1116 — State agency fines and penalties.
HB 1117 — Coal gasification and substitute natural gas.
HB 1118 — Alcoholic beverages.
SB 0117 — Parole issues.
SB 0118 — DOC superintendent qualifications.
SB 0119 — Cell phone use while driving.
SB 0120 — Employer immunity for hiring offenders.
SB 0121 — Donations by local units to community foundations.
SB 0122 — Coverage for stereotactic radiotherapy.
SB 0123 — Grading and certification of meat products.
SB 0124 — Child seduction.
SB 0125 — Reentry courts and community transition.
SB 0126 — License plate cycle for certain plates.
SB 0127 — Local port authority eminent domain procedures.
SB 0128 — Equivalent jobs and wage discrimination.
SB 0129 — Notice of meetings.
SB 0130 — Conversion by failure to return rented property.
SB 0131 — Jurisdiction of university and college police.
SB 0132 — Definition of “serious bodily injury”.
SB 0133 — PERF COLA and thirteenth check.
SB 0134 — Consolidation of certain environmental and natural resources proceedings.
SB 0135 — Relocation of a riverboat.
SB 0136 — Challenges to a candidate’s eligibility.
SB 0137 — Public safety employees.
SB 0138 — Income tax withholding.
SB 0139 — Violation of probation.
SB 0140 — Tort claims against governmental entities.
SB 0141 — Sales tax exemption for college textbooks.
SB 0142 — Teacher professional development days.
SB 0144 — Residency of police officers and firefighters.
SB 0145 — Voter identification.
SB 0146 — Information preceding an abortion.
SB 0147 — Abandoned embryo adoption.
SB 0148 — Repeal of expiration dates for state offices.
SB 0149 — Coroner and deputy coroner training.
SB 0150 — Physical therapists.
SB 0151 — Checkoff for cancer research.
SB 0152 — Automated external defibrillators in health clubs.
SB 0153 — Extension of dentist instructor license.
SB 0154 — Regulated occupation definition.
SB 0155 — Study on domestic violence program.
SB 0156 — Communicable disease rules.
SB 0157 — Opioid treatment programs.
From the Associated Press, via the South Bend Tribune comes this story about the tendency to give juvenile offenders adult consequences. Basically, it states this tendency was a reaction to spikes in juvenile crime in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Since the time the laws were changed to treat juveniles as adults, research is now coming in indicating that sending juveniles to adult facilities only makes them better criminals. Several states are looking at retooling their juvenile systems to focus on treatment, instead of incarceration with adults.
As the Blogmeister has stated previously, he worked with juveniles during the early 1990’s in a program designed to change behavior and keep juveniles out of adult facilities. He knows first hand that these programs do work. However, there are cases where the programs fail. With anything, we must not let the pendulum swing to far either way. There will be cases where the public is best served by long term incarceration and others where treatment is the best option. Read the story and decide for yourself, but in the Blogmeiser’s opinion, varied options available to the judiciary is the best public policy.
The Indianapolis Star reports today on an legislative iniative to address Indiana’s homeless Youth. The story is here. The first thing on the agenda, to find out how big the problem is.
“…estimates of runaway and homeless youths in Indiana vary widely, from 10,000 to three times that many.”
The proposals are spearheaded by Rep. Dennis T. Avery, D-Evansville. Second on the agenda is to:
“…loosen restrictions that sometimes tie the shelters’ hands.
Indiana law requires shelters to obtain consent from a parent or guardian before they help children younger than 18… One proposal would remove that restriction for teens 16 or older.
Another proposal relaxes a rule requiring a shelter to notify parents of a runaways’ location within 24 hours of the youth’s arrival. The shelter would have three days … allowing its staff to probe for possible abuse or other threatening conditions.”
While IST recognizes this is first step, and you have to start somewhere, it is hoped these proposals will go further and address the underlying difficulties these teens face. While it is thought there my be a variety of reasons for this problem, most homeless teens are homeless because of longstanding difficulties in their family of origin. To adequately address the issue, legislators should focus on families abilities to obtain treatment from qualified mental health professionals. To do this, payment restrictions in medicaid and the insurance industry need to be relaxed. However, this is a good first step. Lets just hope it moves where it needs to and doesn’t stop with these initiatives.