March 25, 2002
by Gregory Brinker , Edmund McGarrell , H. John Okeson
H. John Okeson
During the latter months of 1996, I began to consider seriously Indiana’s
approach to juvenile justice matters. My interest arose from both practical
and public policy concerns. First, if popular commentators predictions
that a “predator class” of youths will descend upon society are accurate,
my office must prepare to handle an onslaught of appeals arising from juvenile
matters at the trial level. Second, many local officials throughout Indiana
have recently observed that their constituents are growing increasingly
reluctant to approve new expenditures for any local governmental endeavor.
This sentiment creates fiscal hardship for local officials who face growing
juvenile justice costs such as detention facilities, expanded prosecutor
and probation staffs, and exploding court dockets. My concerns led me to
seek a series of hearings throughout Indiana. Rather than merely studying
statistics, I wanted to visit with Hoosiers on the front line judges, prosecutors,
probation officers, law enforcement officials, nonprofit agency representatives,
and laymen. I wanted to hear about the scope of juvenile crime in Indiana
and the impact of related costs on Hoosier communities. Between February
4 and February 18, 1997, we held hearings in Terre Haute, Evansville, Fort
Wayne, Crown Point, South Bend, and New Albany. While the following report
details the participants testimony, certain recurrent themes merit discussion.
Dollars (and Sense)
Local officials cited a lack of resources to pursue juvenile justice
solutions. Many local officials seemed resigned to the fact that while
more money would be helpful, additional local revenue may not be available.
This is because residents in many communities are simply unwilling to spend
more money on local government (whether it is juvenile justice, picking
up garbage, or opening public swimming pools). Though the state government
has a significant budget surplus, the excess does not find its way into
every budget. Such seems to be the case with juvenile justice programs.
Most local officials believe that the solution to their financial concerns
lies with more sensible and creative spending strategies. For these leaders,
the emphasis should be on prevention, aftercare, and the coordination of
the activities of the various juvenile justice system participants. In
addition, comprehensive approaches to juvenile crime and delinquency should
recognize the potential contributions available from nonprofit and other
private sector entities.
The most common criticism was that without aftercare to supplement
a juvenile’s treatment from a public or other facility, the time and resources
devoted to the juvenile during the referral period are essentially lost.
This is because many offenders come from relatively unstructured family
and home settings, encounter a disciplined environment upon referral to
a facility, and are then released into an “anything goes” setting. Aftercare
should concentrate not only on reinforcing the behavioral changes made
during the referral period, but also on aiding the family unit as it reintegrates
the juvenile. Unfortunately, burgeoning case loads and funding shortages
for probation officers and other aftercare professionals make meaningful
follow-up difficult or impossible in many Hoosier communities. Based on
testimony from Hoosiers across Indiana, I believe that the single most
influential step state or federal officials could take would be to initiate
or increase funding for aftercare programs to Indiana communities. This
funding should require minimal bureaucratic intrusion. While I am a true
skeptic of programs that “throw money” at problems, maintaining public
safety and preserving liberty should be government’s primary function.
By increasing the use of aftercare programs in Hoosier communities, we
would make a serious commitment to juvenile crime prevention.
Detention and Juvenile Correction Facilities
Many participants, especially those directly involved in law enforcement,
lamented the lack of pre-adjudication detention facilities for juveniles.
By federal law, and according to the Indiana Court of Appeals and our state
constitution, officials must segregate juvenile offenders not waived into
adult court into juvenile-only facilities upon being “adjudicated” (the
juvenile law equivalent of being found guilty of a criminal offense in
adult court). Simply put, most Indiana communities do not have sufficient
space to house all local juvenile offenders. Many local officials expressed
frustration at the limited options for post-adjudication residential placement.
Crowding and population limits at the Indiana Department of Correction
facilities have forced some communities to rely on costly out of state
placements or consider constructing and financing a long-term juvenile
facility. Local officials pointed to the significant capital costs inherent
in constructing these facilities. These and other costs have led many counties
to consider multi-county or privately owned and managed facilities. (For
example, Noble, LaGrange, Steuben, and DeKalb counties in northeast Indiana
have explored retaining a private contractor to build and manage a four-county
facility to service the needs of all four communities.)Numerous local commentators
noted that state assistance in constructing these facilities would greatly
increase the likelihood of their completion. This could allow more youths
to remain in their own communities.
I must acknowledge several individuals and organizations whose
assistance was invaluable to the success of the field hearings. Hudson
Institute, through Dr. Ed McGarrell and Mr. Greg Brinker of Hudson’s Crime
Control Policy Center, provided vital academic background as I prepared
for the hearings. In addition, Hudson also recorded testimony at the field
hearings and prepared much of this report. The McVey Group provided important
pro bono logistical support for the hearings. Mr. Brose McVey and Mr. Todd
Huston handled scheduling and meeting room arrangements for the hearings,
and their voluntary support made it possible for the hearings to occur
at no public expense. Finally, the hearings were valuable because our sponsors
ensured a variety of testimony at each location. In addition to Hudson
Institute, I thank Mr. Steve Johnson and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s
Council; Mr. Mike Ward and Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police; the
Association of County Commissioners; the Association of Indiana Counties;
and the Indiana State Bar Association. I also thank Mr. George Glass and
Mr. Jeff Bercovitz of the Indiana Judicial Center for their assistance.
Record of Proceedings
Mr. Okeson asked participants about the effects, real and perceived,
that juvenile crime has on local budgets. This question was prompted by
anecdotal evidence that other policy initiatives, agencies, and programs
will see reduced or limited funding as a result of juvenile justice expenditures.
Most participants were critically concerned about fiscal challenges facing
local governments. Budgets for juvenile offenders, troubled, and needy
youth have increased dramatically with the rise in the number of young
offenders entering Indiana’s justice system.
The forums revealed a general consensus that the public has reached
the maximum acceptable level of local taxation. Thus, the issue in many
communities is how to allocate existing resources. Other participants desired
greater federal and state funding without the typical “interference” associated
with such resources. One participant stated that it is not that communities
are not able to pay for effective juvenile justice programs, but that taxpayers
are unwilling to part with any more resources for any governmental programs.
This sentiment again suggests that to maximize its juvenile justice resources,
government must reprioritize where and how it allocates those resources.
Many participants stated that government, specifically the general assembly
and local elected officials, need to give juvenile crime intervention,
prevention, and education programs higher priority. The common sentiment
among participants was, “Pay now, or pay later.” Small and rural county
participants expressed concern about their communities’ ability to pay
for juvenile justice at all. Many smaller counties simply do not have the
tax base to afford proper facilities and programs. These counties must
send juvenile offenders to out-of-state facilities, private facilities,
or waive juvenile offenders to adult court. Some participants stated that
cost considerations often dictate the disposition and sentencing of youthful
offenders; i.e., that officials sometimes waive offenders into adult court
because adult detention or incarceration is often less expensive than in
the juvenile system. Conversely, other participants stated that the welfare
of the juvenile and the well-being of the community were paramount.
Increased juvenile crime has also created a greater need for state,
local, and private detention facilities. St. Joseph County recently completed
a $20 million juvenile justice facility. The new facility replaced an aging
one and was necessary to meet increased demand. The cost of the new facility
seriously concerned local residents. Merely replacing existing facilities
is expensive. Equipping these facilities to provide needed specialized
care or treatment can be prohibitive. Examples of specialized care include
treatment emphasizing education, substance abuse or anger control, and
specialized housing for youthful offenders. Besides the high cost of construction,
referrals to these facilities, though often considered effective, are terribly
expensive. This has led to shorter stays, frustrating to officials, one
of whom stated, “You cannot change sixteen years worth of problems in ninety
days.” Several participants from the Indiana Department of Corrections
(IDOC) stated that bed space is a problem and that new facilities are costly.
One participant stated that his county can no longer afford to send juveniles
to out-of-county long-term detention facilities. This is because referrals
to these facilities are so expensive; only five weeks into the fiscal year,
the county had exhausted its 1997 budget for juvenile detention costs.
A probation officer from a moderately populated county stated that increased
caseloads created a need for more such officers in the county. This placed
greater pressure on the county’s juvenile justice budget.
Participants questioned the cost effectiveness of many juvenile
justice programs. One participant stated that those involved should take
the cost/benefit considerations seriously and not merely throw money at
juvenile crime. Fiscal considerations often dictate juvenile sentencing.
Often, underfunded courts and related agencies contribute to the lenient
treatment of nonviolent offenders. Less serious offenders and status offenders
often know that more serious cases need to be addressed and that prosecutors
and others are burdened with overwhelming caseloads. Several participants
commented that a better-funded juvenile justice system could pay more attention
to these offenders, possibly preventing a return encounter with the system.
A law enforcement officer argued that status offenders (those committing
low-level offenses) should be sent to the Division of Family and Children
or to a similar state agency. He believes that these offenders are simply
troubled youths who need specialized care. Such cases increase the caseload
of criminal justice personnel and slow down the court process. One northern
Indiana judge believes that creative and alternative funding and spending
ideas could make scarce resources go further. He noted that in his county,
a pooling of court, school, and social service resources had produced a
“necessary response to the individual juvenile offender.” He concluded,
however, that even greater coordination of efforts and resources must occur
to ensure maximum efficiency and effect.
Juvenile Aftercare Programs
Participants in every community identified lack of aftercare programs
available to youthful offenders and their families as a major deficiency.
They advocated community investment of public dollars in some form of aftercare,
either public or private. Aftercare is defined as additional follow-up
performed by probation officers, social workers, and other trained youth
workers once a youth offender completes a referral program. One participant
bluntly stated, “without aftercare, the referral period itself is a waste
of time and taxpayer dollars.” One participant stated that by not following
up with aftercare for offenders, the system is going only halfway. Many
incarcerated juveniles have left an “anything goes” setting at home for
a “zero tolerance” atmosphere at a detention facility. Without follow-up,
the behavioral modification learned in an institution is lost when the
youth returns home. One state program that mandates aftercare is the LaPorte
juvenile boot camp known as Camp Summit. Officials representing Camp Summit
noted that if an offender refuses to attend aftercare, it is a violation
of the release and the offender will usually be returned to a detention
facility. This insistence on aftercare helps youths make the transition
from incarceration to community. However, this program is relatively new,
and Camp Summit is currently evaluating its effectiveness. Some participants
stated that aftercare, mentoring, and reintegration programs were necessary
for youthful offenders. Many stated that simply “cutting juveniles loose”
after a commitment into a long-term facility is unfair to both the juvenile
and the community.
The Role of Nonprofits and Charitable Organizations
Nonprofit and charitable organizations play an important role in the
lives of juveniles and communities by extending services where public and
private services are lacking or do not exist. Charitable organizations
often have the ability and internal organization to offer services more
immediately than public providers. One participant at the Fort Wayne forum
believes charities offer much to address juvenile crime. For example, nonprofit
residential treatment centers offer family programs to those in need in
the Fort Wayne community. He also suggested that state and local communities
explore the use of religious organizations to address community and juvenile
problems. One participant, from a church-affiliated organization, asserted
that the criminal justice system merely reacts to, and is too distant from,
the social problems and issues of local communities. Religious organizations
and nonprofit organizations, he stated, usually have an interest in the
problem and offender. These organizations are in the community where the
issues and problems occur, and often they are familiar with the individuals
and families affected. Another individual stated that some form of religious
orientation should be part of the public school system and part of the
criminal justice system, specifically when counseling or treating juveniles.
Yet another participant discussed offering family intervention programs
through churches. Some participants were concerned, however, about using
church-affiliated organizations to provide public services and raised potential
legal issues that could stem from this practice. Participants noted that
nonprofits and charitable organizations are not without limitations and
often must work with limited financial resources. These organizations rely
on donations from individuals and sometimes government grants. Because
of the ebb and flow of donations, financial limitations often restrict
the types of programs offered and the number of people who can be served.
Many programs are short-lived without community-wide support and a guaranteed
Prevention, Intervention, and Education
At every forum site, participants extensively discussed intervention,
prevention, and educational programs. Most participants expressed concern
about the value and need for such programs. Most also believed that early
intervention with high-risk and at-risk youths and families must be a long-term
goal of the juvenile justice system and is necessary to achieve any meaningful
measure of prevention. Intervention programs intervene with at-risk youth
in an attempt to disrupt and modify a specific behavior, process, or action.
Juvenile intervention programs are tailored toward youth, families, and
the community and often involve close collaboration among the police, schools,
case managers, and other youth service providers. One participant cited
a RAND study that demonstrated intervention programs as more cost effective
than incarceration, but pointed out that serious violent offenders still
need detention and correction facilities. Currently, Indiana has only one
statewide network of youth-serving agencies designed to intervene or prevent
juvenile delinquency. The Indiana Youth Services Bureau operates twenty-nine
offices throughout the state with a budget of approximately $600,000.
Participants repeatedly expressed concern about the cost of such
programs. The more problems or the more extensive problems a youthful offender
exhibits, the higher the cost of placement and treatment. Unfortunately,
many early intervention, prevention, and educational programs are poorly
funded or poorly staffed. Many services are overlapping and uncoordinated
among communities, counties, and regions of the state. Most agreed that
intervention programs are expensive and offer no sure solutions. Many participants
stated that intervention programs are not suitable for all juvenile offenders
and that the most serious (violent) juvenile offenders are beyond the reach
of known intervention or prevention programs. Most participants believed
that these offenders require long-term incarceration for the protection
of the community, and often themselves.
One participant advocated the state taking an aggressive stance
toward the funding of juvenile prevention and early intervention programs.
Patchwork funding of youth-oriented programs is not effective. Most participants
also agreed that money should not be concentrated on one specific issue,
problem, or program but should provide an array of early, middle, and late
intervention, prevention, education, or aftercare services. One social
worker observed that neighboring counties frequently do not coordinate
efforts and services directed at juvenile offenders. Participants suggested
more coordination between local and community agencies along with increased
coordination with state agencies. Specifically, state agencies should provide
some form of oversight, guidance, and support of programs, policies, and
initiatives. There was some disagreement about federal and state oversight
of community-oriented programs. Many local intervention and prevention
program providers believe there is too much bureaucratic regulation of
these programs, which in turn limits their effectiveness. On the other
hand, many participants recognized the need for a governing or administrative
agency with authority to prevent fiscal mismanagement and ensure the coordination
and effectiveness of various programs.
Many participants believe that the Healthy Families Indiana program,
modeled after the Healthy Families America program, has been a success.
Healthy Families Indiana focuses on reducing child abuse and neglect, promoting
child wellness and proper development, strengthening family relations,
promoting family unity, and reducing dependency on drugs and alcohol within
at-risk families. The Healthy Families program provides the following services
to at-risk families: informal counseling or emotional support services,
assistance in developing parenting and coping skills; education on the
importance of good nutritional habits to improve the overall health of
their children; education on developmental assessments so that learning
disabilities, physical handicaps, and behavioral health needs are identified
as early as possible; education on the importance of preventative health
care; assistance and encouragement to provide age appropriate immunizations;
assistance and encouragement to access comprehensive private and public
preschool and other school readiness programs; and assistance in applying
for private and public financial assistance including employment services.
One participant saw a need for better methods of “profiling,” i.e., making
early assessments of the needs of at-risk youth and juvenile offenders.
One university professor warned that labeling, real or perceived, could
occur when dealing with at-risk children and families. This could damage
the child’s self-image and ability to change his behavior for the better.
One participant stated that serious violent offenders need long-term,
multidimensional treatment. Currently, the typical ninety-day program is
neither long enough nor intensive enough to address serious behavioral
and emotional problems characteristic of a serious violent offender. These
ninety-day, one-size-fits-all programs seem to result from financial
constraints. Many participants agreed that schools, community or nonprofit
organizations, or governmental agencies should offer at-risk families
basic life-skill classes, parenting classes, and technical training classes.
Participants disagreed on the intrusiveness of intervention programs. One
specific intervention proposal that was discussed was to make parenting
or child rearing courses mandatory for parents, expectant parents, or newlyweds.
Many participants made statements such as “you have to pass a test to get
a driver’s license but anyone can have a child.” On the other hand, others
believe that government intervention programs are too intrusive and should
be curtailed. Participants stated that Indiana needs more diversion
programs to stem the increased court caseload and IDOC’s commitments.
An example of such a program is the Teen Court program. Teen courts offer
youths firsthand experience concerning the court process by allowing youth
peers to preside over the case and a youth jury to arrive at a verdict.
Many participants labeled preliminary results quite positive. Most participants
believe that the social service systems should focus their efforts on proactive
measures. A rural prosecuting attorney stated that by the time a
youth reaches the prosecutor, AI have little recourse but to try to punish
the offender to the best of my ability that my position offers. He concluded,
when they “reach me, prevention and intervention programs will not affect
the youth. They are too far gone.” One participant believed that there
is no state mandate or law addressing prevention or intervention programs,
although many laws concern the incarceration of juvenile offenders. A social
worker stated that prevention, intervention, aftercare, and education programs
“get more bang for their bucks” compared with incarceration. Other participants
concurred that the long-term benefits and effects of prevention, intervention,
education, and aftercare programs far outweigh the short-term benefits
and effects of incarceration. However, several prosecuting attorneys and
judges questioned the effectiveness of such programs. Another social worker
stated that “throwing all the money into punishment is not the answer.”
Rather, Indiana needs a well-funded, well-staffed, comprehensive plan to
deal with juvenile offenders, which includes various aspects of education,
prevention, intervention, treatment, and incarceration. One participant,
concerned about the lack of reliable aftercare, stated that aftercare programs
should emphasize the discipline begun in correctional facilities. In southwest
Indiana, one prosecuting attorney stated that the sale of drugs was still
the number one problem among juveniles, because it enabled them to “make
big money.” He argued that the entire spectrum of programs and laws should
be utilized to attack this problem.
Adequate and Proper Juvenile Facilities
Cost Considerations Many participants stated that local communities
had inadequate facilities either to detain or treat juvenile offenders.
This was primarily due to the great expense in constructing and operating
such facilities. Many forum participants from small rural counties stated
that the residents of their counties cannot afford the facilities necessary
to handle juvenile offenders and their associated problems. Several citizens
of one northern Indiana county were outraged at the costs associated with
a new detention facility. Most agreed that the old facility was dilapidated
and could no longer meet the increased demand of juvenile offenders. The
issue for many residents was the cost of a new structure (which has run
several million dollars and more than 100 percent over its original budget)
and the lack of any substantial treatment programs (i.e., substance abuse,
education, and anger control) offered at the detention facility.
Many participants advocated joint funding efforts by adjacent counties.
Nevertheless, some participants stated that efforts had failed to resolve
differences over how facilities should be operated, funded, and staffed.
One participant stated that “everyone wants to have the last word.” Due
to lack of adequate facilities and funding for such projects, many county
officials have turned to private correction businesses that specialize
in detention and correction facilities. Private facilities offer as many
features (i.e., specialized treatment) as public facilities do. Several
participants from private corrections firms attended forums to discuss
the benefits of their programs. Some participants were apprehensive of
the cost of private corrections facilities. Daily expenses at private facilities
tend to be significantly more than at public facilities. Others criticized
private correction facilities for allegedly cutting corners, thus decreasing
their programs’ effectiveness. There is no consensus on whether the effectiveness
of private facilities justifies their expense. Despite concerns, most private
corrections facilities often offer more immediate responses to community
needs than do publicly funded facilities. Out-of-State Facilities Several
participants observed that because many local communities do not have adequate
detention facilities or facilities that offer specialized treatment, many
juvenile offenders are sent out of state. One judge said that he sends
most special-needs youths to Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, or Pennsylvania.
These states offer privately operated programs that stress behavior modification,
education, and vocational skills. Participants voiced two critical concerns
with out-of-state programs. First, the programs are costly, with some programs
costing $300 per day per offender versus $90 to $95 per day in an in-state,
public facility. Second, family ties are difficult to maintain when a youthful
offender is sent to another state. Depending on the offender, this can
be detrimental to successful treatment and eventual reintegration.
One IDOC official stated that the Indiana Boys’ School in Plainfield
has been under a federal consent decree to reduce its enrollment. These
efforts have had a twofold effect. First, fewer counties can use Indiana’s
Edmund F. McGarrell was a senior adjunct fellow with Hudson Institute’s Crime Control Policy Center until 2004.
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