Making Democracy Work

Juvenile Justice

Adopted 1971, Updated 1978, 1993, and 1999

The Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County support measures to prevent delinquency and provide alternatives to detention of juveniles.  We support services for dependent children and their care providers to focus on the best way to meet the needs of the children who are separated from their families.  We continue to support the principle that juveniles who are status offenders should not be held in secure facilities.  We support funding to meet the needs of the children, their care providers, and support services.

  • Objectives for the Delinquency System:
    • Alternatives to detention for 602s, such as group residences, community service work, crisis counseling, fines, education programs, traffic school, electronic monitoring, alcohol and drug programs, etc.  We see a need for more and greater variety of housing and diversion facilities.
    • A variety of community-based diversion programs for at-risk youth; in particular, crisis counseling, intensive intervention, supportive services for children and youth, crisis homes of long and short duration, group residences, crisis foster home programs and foster homes.
    • Programs within schools, such as alternative schools, parenting programs, and remedial programs, which reach the children at an early age.  Community-based programs to provide positive activities.

  • Objectives for the Dependency System:
    • Adequate support and funding to foster care providers to optimize the care of dependent children: including coordinated access to social, medical and mental health services and provision of the basic necessities for foster families.
    • Adequate support and funding for the needs of older dependent youth to prepare them for adult life.  Programs include training for independent living, job training, transitional housing, medical services, and transitional financial support to age 21.
    • Placement of dependent children should be focused on the needs of children including their siblings and extended family members (regardless of where the family lives).  When appropriate, we support programs that strengthen families and reunify children with their parents.
    • Placement in controlled treatment facilities should be available to seriously emotionally disturbed youth who meet specific criteria.

  • Objectives for All Youth and Families:
    • Counseling at elementary, junior high and high school level with referral to appropriate agencies and supportive services for individuals and families.
    • Interagency cooperation (both public and private-nonprofit) to provide coordination, participation, and communication with children, families, and foster care providers in dealing with the basic needs and problems of children, youth, and families.
    • Broad-based publicity, especially in the schools, about resources available to children and families with problems or potential problems. Parent education and parenting classes need to be available.
    • Programs, funded by any level of government or in partnership with the private sector, need appropriate built-in accountability and evaluation components.

Definitions:

300
A minor who has been neglected or abused, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge that person to be a "dependent child of the court."
601
A status offender is a minor coming under the jurisdiction of the court for non-criminal behavior, e.g., runaway, truancy, curfew violation, or beyond the control of parents, guardian, or custodian.
602
A minor who has committed a law violation, either a misdemeanor or a felony.
707
A minor who has committed a serious or violent felony law violation which is of such severity that the minor may be adjudicated in the adult court system and incarcerated in an adult prison or confined in a juvenile correction facility.
601s, 602s, and 707s
All are "wards of the court."
Diversion
Early intervention with services providing alternatives to the juvenile courts for first time and minor offenders.  At the very core of the diversion program is the belief that early intervention and coordination of services for "at risk" children have the most positive impact in resolving problem behaviors.  Unlike the juvenile justice system, the diversion program focuses on prevention rather than punishment.


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