Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/10/1995 01:18 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 alone. 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 cases. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS made a motion to move CSHB 202(HES) out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.