Concerns in Juvenile Intake
"The ‘rehabilitative model’ often results in harsher punishments for the honest juvenile and easier punishments for the dishonest and experienced juvenile."
This article continues a series of articles examining issues in juvenile justice and will discuss: 1) Juvenile Assessment Center ("JAC") procedures for obtaining urine samples; 2) consents for psycho-social assessments and urine samples; and, 3) exposure to excessive punishment for a charge based upon the amount of information a juvenile discloses to the case manager.
First, the obtaining of urine samples for drug tests and the Agency for Community Treatment Services ("ACTS") policy behind such tests pose serious threats to juvenile rights. ACTS management requires case managers to maintain high numbers of urine samples because the facility receives grant money for each sample. This grant money provides a major source of funding for the JAC. A case manager may obtain questionable consent by not informing a juvenile that he has an option to decline to submit a urine sample. In addition, the procedures for obtaining a urine sample from a juvenile appear not conform to the standards set forth by the F.D.L.E. State of Florida v. Bodden, 27 Fla. L. Weekly D 2382 (2nd DCA 2002) is analogous. Bodden dealt with the method of administration and analysis of a urine test in a DUI case. The court held urine tests for the presence of chemical or controlled substances must be performed according to the methods approved by the F.D.L.E and in accordance with the Florida Administrative Procedures Act. Protocol in JAC procedures may pose problems with the admissibility of such evidence in court.
Second, the juvenile’s parent(s) are not present for the psycho-social assessment or the juvenile’s consent to the assessment and urine sample. The parents are typically unaware of the intake procedures until meeting with the case manager after the proceedings are complete. The juvenile typically consents to intake proceedings and waives counsel because she is scared, confused, or has no one to advise her that it may be in her best interest to decline.
Lastly, the information gathered by a case manager during intake proceedings gives them wide-range discretion when making a recommendation for a diversion program. The "rehabilitative model" often results in harsher punishments for an honest juvenile and easier punishment for the dishonest and experienced juvenile. Based on information disclosed by the juvenile in intake proceedings, a first time offender charged with petit theft can be placed in an intensive diversion program such as Intensive Delinquency Diversion Services or Juvenile Drug Court (see last article for description). However, if a juvenile charged with petit theft admits to drug use, the case manager might recommend Juvenile Drug Court requiring the juvenile to submit urine samples twice a week for a year. The problem with these recommendations is that juveniles who lie or make no lifestyle admissions have the potential to receive much easier diversion programs than those who are honest and admit substance abuse, school, or family issues.
In conclusion, this article attempts to describe the JAC intake process and unveil a few concerns with this contact. Lawyers should continue to question the practices, procedures, and diversion recommendations of this facility.