Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/10/1995 01:18 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 202 - JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS                                 
 Number 500                                                                    
 MS. OTTO, Deputy Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of           
 Law, representing Governor Knowles, introduced HB 202.  When the              
 Governor first started looking at introducing crime legislation, he           
 asked that those involved in putting the legislation together,                
 including herself, talk to people who work in the system, such as             
 policemen, teachers, kids, parents, and people at McLaughlin, to              
 see what they felt would be most useful in dealing with the                   
 juvenile crime problem which is rising dramatically, particularly             
 in the urban areas of the state.  The single, most frequent comment           
 was that we need to get parents more involved.  Even if you cannot            
 get those feelings and emotions involved, just having the parents             
 participate in the process would be a big step forward.  When she             
 first started juvenile delinquency hearings in 1982, she was                  
 shocked when parents did not show up.  Under current law, parents             
 do not have to attend juvenile delinquency hearings for their                 
 children.  The most important thing this bill does is require                 
 parents to attend juvenile delinquency hearings, unless they can              
 show good cause for not participating.  The second problem people             
 identified was that in many instances the kids' problems are                  
 intricately tied to the problems of the family and the parents.  If           
 you can just get them into mediation or some kind of family                   
 counseling, you would have a much bigger impact on the child's                
 delinquency problems than anything you could do with the child                
 MS. OTTO said the second thing the bill does is in Section (2),               
 subsection (b).  That gives the court the discretion to order                 
 parents to participate in treatment with their children, and also             
 to become involved in monitoring the child's probation conditions             
 and to report those conditions to the court.  The payment for this            
 is set out in subsection (c) and the mechanism for recovery is set            
 out in Section 1 of the bill.  If the parents have available                  
 insurance or other resources, that has to be used to pay for the              
 treatment.  If they are indigent and cannot afford it, then the               
 Department of Health and Social Services would pay for the                    
 treatment, and the recovery would be taken from the parents'                  
 permanent fund dividend (PFD) checks.                                         
 MS. OTTO explained that the third thing the bill does is give the             
 court the discretion to order the minor's parent as well as the               
 minor to pay restitution.  We did modify this in the Health and               
 Social Services Committee to say that if the minor was a runaway              
 and had been reported missing, the parents would not be held                  
 responsible for restitution.                                                  
 MS. OTTO described the final thing the bill does.  Orders of                  
 restitution in juvenile cases can be enforced as civil judgments,             
 which is what happens in adult cases.  If you get an order of                 
 restitution made against you, the victim can file it with the court           
 and collect, using civil collection procedures, but in juvenile               
 cases, the order of restitution disappears when the child leaves              
 the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.  It would allow the                   
 restitution award to actually be recoverable, where in many cases             
 right now, it is not recoverable.                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked if the provision applying to a               
 child who is a runaway applies to all provisions, such as treatment           
 costs, or just to restitution.                                                
 MS. OTTO answered that it only applies to the restitution award.              
 Even if the child is a runaway, we would like the parents to be               
 attending the juvenile delinquency hearings, and to become involved           
 in treatment.  We think that is very important, but we do not want            
 to force the parents to pay money judgments if they have no ability           
 to control their child's behavior because the child was a runaway.            
 The idea is to intervene before these juveniles become adults and             
 adult criminals.                                                              
 Number 650                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER added that this would cause the parents to be                 
 responsible, without making the level of responsibility too hard to           
 meet if for whatever reason, your child is a runaway.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked if someone from the Department of            
 Health and Social Services could address their general philosophy             
 on this.                                                                      
 DIANE WORLEY, Director, Division of Family and Youth Services                 
 (DFYS), Department of Health and Services, stated that the division           
 supports this bill.  The philosophy that the division operates from           
 is that we are looking to provide family centered services.  As we            
 work with families and children, we need to include all family                
 members in dealing with the problems and in looking for solutions             
 to these problems, and towards getting to the point where the                 
 family is able to deal with it, and to be in a healthy position.              
 With that in mind, having parents involved with their children, and           
 to help be responsible for the actions of their children, moves us            
 towards this end.  We cannot work just with the child and pull the            
 child out of the family setting, and try to make a change either in           
 treatment or in their restitution, if they are then going back into           
 the same setting where nothing else has changed.  She was not                 
 implying that all of the children's actions are directly related to           
 how the parents have dealt with that child in the past, but it is             
 an environmental issue as well, that we come from environments, and           
 certain things are a part of that.                                            
 MS. WORLEY has only worked at DFYS for a short time and prior to              
 that time, she did work in the direct service field.  Working                 
 closely with the whole family, having the parents involved, makes             
 a tremendous amount of difference.  There are also a lot of parents           
 out there who will call a service provider and say, "I would like             
 an appointment for my child.  Please fix him/her."  We would say we           
 would be glad to help, but that we need everyone involved in order            
 to work on the situation.  It is not an isolated situation in most            
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS made a motion to move CSHB 202(HES) out of               
 committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal                 
 Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                      

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