ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT JUVENILE REVIEW BOARDS
Do you have any other ideas how we might get the police to use the JRB rather than send cases to court?
As far as getting the police to divert rather than refer to court, this has been a common problem and I would suggest the following:
Make sure the patrol officers know about the JRB - who can be referred, how they can refer, the advantages of diversion, and the types of consequences imposed by the JRB. Many officers aren't familiar with what the JRB does, who they can refer, the referral process and what actually happens to the kids that are sent to the JRB. Because of this lack of knowledge about the JRB, they just send the kids to court. I have found that a simple brochure that answers these questions distributed to the police is helpful. Also, sending a JRB representative to speak for a few minutes on these issues at the roll call meeting before each shift also helps. With the introduction of the new ticket form, that is a perfect opportunity to present that information.
- While it may not be feasible in a larger town or city, you could ask the police to funnel all juvenile cases through the youth division who would then determine if diversion is appropriate or if a court referral is necessary. That would eliminate the need for each individual patrol officer to have to make the decision. The result could be a more consistent use of diversion and more referrals to the JRB.
- Meet with the juvenile court staff and identify a few of the cases that were referred to the court that could have been diverted to the JRB and then ask the officers or shift supervisor why they were sent to court. Maybe there was a reason for the referral to court or maybe the individual officer involved didn't fully understand the JRB option. Also, the juvenile court could be encouraged to refer eligible cases to the JRB.
- I doubt that the court wants the first offender cases and they would prefer that those cases get handled by the JRB. The first or second time a kid is referred to court for a minor crime, they rarely see the judge or the prosecutor. Their case is handled non-judicially by the probation officer who has the kid do community service, write an essay, etc. Much like what the JRB does but probably to a lesser degree. The court would rather spend its limited time and resources dealing with those kids and families that need court intervention.
- I continue to try and move the court to agree to divert certain delinquency cases from handling by the court if the case is JRB eligible, unless that option has at least been considered and offered to the family. While this hasn't happened on a state-wide basis yet, recent events, including a pilot project in certain locations, indicate that it may occur more frequently in the future. You might want to sit down with the juvenile probation supervisor in your juvenile court to see if this is something he or she can do.
- You might also want to consider speaking to the police and JRBs of your neighboring towns to see if you can execute a reciprocal Memorandum of Agreement to have kids from your town referred to your JRB when they get arrested in an adjoining town instead of just referring them to the court. You can see such an MOA here.
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