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Justice System

LWVIN  | Published on 1/1/2020

Justice System

Justice System

Pretrial Release

Persons arrested should be released on their own recognizance or on an unsecured bond unless the court finds financial security necessary to secure appearance for trial or to protect public safety. Certain offenses are constitutionally exempt from bail. 

Release on one’s own recognizance or an unsecured bond should not be available to those already on pretrial release or arrested for another felony. 

Trained judicial and non-judicial personnel should screen defendants eligible for pretrial release as soon as possible 
after arrest. Bail, if appropriate, should be set without delay. 

In all courts, a system of minimum ten-percent cash bail should be readily available. The cash should be returned to the defendants upon disposition of their cases, except that one-tenth of the cash (usually, one percent of the total bail) may be retained from those found guilty, for administration of the program. Persons too poor to afford the administrative fee shall be given special consideration. 

All persons on pretrial release should be placed under supervision. 

Unified Courts and Merit System

Indiana should maintain a single statewide court system with uniformity of rules and records, of fiscal responsibility, of assignment of judges and cases, and of administration. As an interim measure, the state should allow court reorganization in individual counties. 

All judges should be lawyers and should be free from the influence of pressure groups and political demands. 

Candidates for judgeships should be nominated under a merit plan by a commission. Judges should be appointed by the governor, and periodically reviewed for retention by voters. A discipline and removal commission should be readily available to hear public complaints  against a judge. It should be authorized to hold confidential hearings and to recommend  disciplinary action. 

To allow sufficient time for judicial business, judges should be free from non-judicial duties and  should be supported by trained staff. 

The courts should be fully financed by the state. Access should be guaranteed to all residents without delay, regardless of their financial situation. Indiana should maintain a single statewide court system with uniformity of rules and records, of fiscal responsibility, of assignment of judges and cases, and of administration. As an interim measure, the state should allow court  reorganization in individual counties. 

Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Justice Position approved by Concurrence April 2016.

Rehabilitation must be the primary goal of the juvenile justice system.  Detention should be used only for the protection of the child or others, or if the child is a flight risk.  All children must be treated equitably, regardless of sex, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.  Major community partners, courts, law enforcement, schools, youth service agencies, parents and the community at large-should support an effective and efficient system for the assessment and treatment of juveniles in trouble.  Annual study to evaluate the practices and progress toward implementation of best practices is essential. 

We support these refinements in the juvenile justice system: 

  • The continued support and funding of the Department of Corrections Division of Youth Services. The Division of Youth Services oversees all aspects of the Indiana Department of Corrections juvenile care.  The Division of Youth Services has adopted the OJJDP Balanced and Restorative Justice Model.  
  •  Annual Reporting and evaluation by the Division of Youth Services on the effectiveness of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model and its impact on juveniles.       
  • Protection of the legal rights of juveniles by providing counsel to the extent possible from the beginning of the intake process. 
  • No waiving of counsel for juveniles under sixteen years of age. 
  • A right to counsel for students facing expulsion from school. 
  • Standardization of the rules of due process for juvenile courts, probation department and the Department of Correction. 
  • Assistance of the Judicial Center in interpreting laws, notifying and educating juvenile probation staff of changes, and overseeing their enforcement for juvenile courts and law enforcement agencies. 
  • Required training in child and adolescent development- physical and mental, typical and atypical-and in family systems for judges and probation officers having juvenile jurisdiction, and support for similar training for attorneys and other relevant personnel in juvenile cases. 
  • Specialized and ongoing continuing education and training for correctional officers who work with juveniles and specific guidelines for work with the juveniles. 

Status Offenders

  • Status offenders should be assessed, using a standardized assessment tool, at the earliest possible point and should come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court only as a last resort.   
  • Handling of status offenders should be uniform throughout the state with specific guidelines about providing status offenders and their families with information and referral to appropriate services based on the above noted standardized assessment tool. 
  • Primary responsibility for services to status offenders and their families should rest with a network of community partners (i.e. Youth Service Bureaus) offering alternative resources.   
  • Status offenders should not be detained unless they are a danger to themselves or others. 
  • Status offenders in detention should be held separately from adjudicated delinquents.  Limits should be placed on their detention prior to and during court proceedings. 

Delinquent Juvenile Offenders

  • A parent or guardian should be required to attend all court proceedings. 
  • There should be no offense for which a juvenile should automatically be remanded to adult court. 
  • Judges should retain full discretionary powers to make decisions regarding these juveniles including remanding them to adult courts. 
  • In Juvenile proceedings it should be possible for parents to be compelled to participate in services that will benefit the family as a whole, as determined by the probation department’s assessment of the needs of the juvenile and their family. 
  • Parents should be responsible for the cost of the crime incurred by their child; however this responsibility should not extend to their being incarcerated for the crime. 
  • Alternative rehabilitative services rather than incarceration shall be provided when appropriate.   
  • If detained, appropriate educational instruction must be provided to insure the acquisition of transferrable credits that will lead to educational progress for the juvenile.

Delivery of Services

  •  Agencies involved in juvenile justice should coordinate their activities to insure adequate services at a community level.  This could include collaborations with state wide associations such as the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana and the Indiana Youth Services Association. 
  • The state of Indiana should act as a catalyst in providing services and programs for juveniles and provide a recognized forum to foster communication and networking of agencies. 
  • The development of delinquency prevention services should be a state priority with support and funding for community based efforts of prevention.

Law Enforcement and Police Training

  •  Law enforcement personnel should have the authority to refer juveniles, especially status offenders, to voluntary agencies. 
  • Law enforcement training should include a curriculum which includes emphasis on juvenile law and techniques for handling juveniles effectively.  
  •  Law enforcement who work with juveniles should have specific and on-going training and specific guidelines for handling juveniles. 


   Needs include:

  • 24 hour a day intake services by qualified personnel in each county. 
  • Statewide guidelines for holding or detaining a child. 
  • A statutory limit on the period of time a juvenile may be held without a determination hearing. 
  • The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative that is being used in 19 counties, should be statewide and serving all 92 counties. 

Institutionalization and alternatives

  •  Community based detention and correctional programs at the local and regional levels are preferred, with centralized state institutions housing only the most serious offenders. 
  • When a youth is detained away from home, the financial responsibility should be shared by both local and state governmental agencies. 
  • All facilities must provide diagnostic health services as well as physical and mental health care.  If a juvenile is detained longer than 60 days, the facility should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for well-child care and be sure that each juvenile is up to date with required vaccinations and inoculations. 
  • The state should set minimum uniform standards for hiring and evaluating job performance at all facilities. 
  • Paroled juvenile offenders and their families need access to services.  The cost of these services should be shared by the county, state and federal governments and whenever possible, by the parents. 


  •  Promote professionalism of juvenile probation officers by means of legislative lobbying, education, uniform standards for hiring probation personnel and networking. 
  • Provide adequate salaries. 
  • Establish caseload limits that allow for better service to juveniles. 
  • Promote and advance progressive and effective probation practices. 
  • Support and promote standardized probation services throughout the state. 
  • Educate the public and enhance community awareness and acceptance of probation as a necessary component of the criminal justice system. 
  • Subsidize with state funding, counties that meet certain uniform probation standards. 

Record Keeping

  • The courts and law enforcement agencies should maintain a uniform system of confidential records separate from those of social service agencies.  Access to these records should be available only on an as needed basis to social service staff who are providing services to the juveniles and their families. 
  • Automatic destruction of records of status offenders and other misdemeanor offenders following a period of two years of no re-offending behavior. 

The Public School’s Role 

  • All schools in Indiana should have resources available to provide alternatives to suspending or expelling students.   
  • School Principals should be able to place the juvenile in an appropriate educationally related program. 
  • Each school corporation should address absences of 10 days or more per semester, through their local prosecutor. 
  • School corporations should be responsible for providing alternative classroom education for disruptive or delinquent juveniles. 
  • The community and school should make available the following voluntary services to juveniles expelled from school: job skill training and or apprenticeships; counseling; alternative schooling; independent living skills training.  These services should be paid for by a mix of local and state governmental funds and parental funds. 
  • Schools must provide parents/guardians with community resource information for basic needs and family supports. 
  • Whenever possible suspended or expelled students should be integrated back into the school environment with supports to offer opportunities for successful reintegration.