Juvenile justice legislation in 2022 focused on steering youth away from formal court processing, protecting due process rights, safeguarding against deceptive interrogation techniques, limiting the use of solitary confinement and restraints, improving conditions of confinement and access to services, curtailing the imposition of fines and fees, and expanding access to record expungement. State lawmakers also passed bills relating to data collection and legislative oversight of juvenile facilities.
Indiana passed a sweeping reform bill that prohibits detaining a person younger than 12 years old unless there is reason to believe the juvenile poses an imminent risk to the community. The legislation also codifies policies and procedures for the use of screening tools, assessments and diversion. Previous law requiring a young person to pay a fee for participating in an informal adjustment program was repealed. Lastly, the bill created a statewide juvenile justice oversight body that must develop plans related to the collection and reporting of juvenile justice data; mental health services for justice-involved youth; alternatives to formal court processing; and transitional services for young people involved in the justice system.
Maryland enacted legislation limiting the circumstances under which a person younger than 13 can enter the juvenile justice system. The new law also sets guidelines for pre-adjudication release, including the use of a risk-screening tool, and provides that a young person cannot be placed in detention except for certain offenses or if the individual has been adjudicated delinquent at least twice in the preceding 12 months. The law shortens the time frame for hearings to determine the need to continue holding young people in detention. The legislation narrows the types of offenses that qualify for out-of-home placement and sets limits on court-ordered probation. Additional provisions include data analysis related to juvenile cases processed in adult court and the establishment of a commission to study juvenile justice reform and emerging and best practices.
Prosecuting attorneys in Idaho can now refer a juvenile’s case directly to the county probation officer or a community-based diversion program for informal supervision and counseling. Lawmakers also established guidelines for informal adjustment and eliminated a law requiring a young person to pay a fee to obtain workers’ compensation insurance when ordered to complete community service.
Due Process Protections and Police Interrogation
Five states—Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland and Utah—passed legislation addressing the protection of due process rights and the conduct of law enforcement during custodial interrogations of minors.
In Arizona, law enforcement who take a juvenile into temporary custody are required to advise the young person of his or her Miranda rights before questioning. Police officers must also make a good faith effort to notify the juvenile’s parents, guardian or custodian of the juvenile’s custody and inform them of the young person’s rights.
California law now prohibits law enforcement from using threats, physical harm, deception or psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics during a custodial interrogation of a person 17 years old or younger. Probation officers are also mandated to notify the public defender within two hours of a juvenile being taken into custody.
Similarly, Delaware and Utah have barred the use of false information by law enforcement regarding evidence or leniency to elicit an incriminating response from a young person during interrogation. In Delaware, such practices will render the juvenile’s statement inadmissible.
Youth in Maryland cannot be interrogated unless they have consulted with legal counsel and reasonable notice of interrogation has been provided to the individual’s parent, guardian or custodian. The new law requires the interrogation to be recorded, limits questions to those reasonably necessary to protect public safety, and creates a rebuttable presumption that a statement made by a young person during interrogation is inadmissible if law enforcement does not comply with these requirements.
Conditions of Confinement
Louisiana and Hawaii passed laws that narrow the use of solitary confinement and clarify the resources that are to be provided to a young person in isolation. The laws in both states stipulate that quarterly reports are to be posted online relaying data gathered on use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities.
Lawmakers in three states—Alabama, Delaware and Tennessee—codified limitations on the use of restraints on young women in juvenile facilities who are pregnant or post-partum.
Youth in California residential and detention facilities will now be able to maintain stronger connections to their families by having access to voice communication services free of charge.
Utah passed legislation allowing the Division of Juvenile Justice Services to continue providing certain educational, rehabilitative and support services to a young person who is no longer in division custody until the individual reaches 25 years of age. Utah now mandates that a young person detained while awaiting trial for certain offenses, must attain the age of 25 before being transferred to an adult jail. If a young person is sentenced to prison, the individual will be provisionally housed in a juvenile facility until the age of 25.
Reducing Collateral Consequences: Fines, Fees and Restitution
Delaware courts can no longer impose fines, fees, costs or assessments on juveniles who lack the means to pay them. The new law also gives courts discretion to waive, modify or suspend any fine, fee, cost or assessment.
Oklahoma repealed a law that allowed a court to assess court costs, treatment costs, drug-testing costs and supervision and program fees against juveniles and their legal guardians.
Under new Colorado law, courts cannot order a juvenile to pay restitution to an insurance company.
Nonjudicial arrest records for juveniles in Florida will be expunged if the individual successfully completes a diversion program for certain felony offenses. Additionally, a new Florida law will allow the expunged criminal history of a young person who completes diversion to remain confidential and exempt from public records requirements.
Indiana requires some juvenile arrest records to be expunged if at least one year has passed since the allegations were filed against the young person. The bill also allows for a young person participating in pretrial diversion to petition for record expungement if authorized by the prosecuting attorney.
Utah has temporarily prohibited the imposition of fees for certificates of eligibility for expungement and has created a reporting requirement for expungement data.
Racial and Ethnic Disparities
The Vermont Legislature established the Division of Racial Justice Statistics, which will collect and analyze data on racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. According to the act, the data will be used “to inform policy decisions that work toward the amelioration of racial disparities across various systems of State government.” The bill requires the division to maintain a public-facing website and dashboard “that maximizes the transparency of the Division’s work and ensures the ability of the public and historically impacted communities to review and understand the data collected by the Division and its analyses.” Furthermore, the act creates the Racial Justice Statistics Advisory Council and appropriates funds to the Office of Racial Equity.
Legislative Oversight of Juvenile Institutions
A Colorado bill established a committee to oversee the treatment of people with behavioral health disorders in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The committee was created in part as a response to data demonstrating 59% of the state’s newly committed youth require behavioral health intervention or services. A task force is charged with studying behavioral health as it relates to justice-involved adults and youth as well as developing and proposing policy modifications for committee consideration.
Utah’s Division of Juvenile Justice Services must now create policies and procedures to prevent, detect and respond to sexual assaults of juveniles in detention and secure care facilities. The division is required to collect data and annually report all incidents of sexual assault from each detention and secure care facility to the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee.