Juvenile Justice 1994
The League of Women Voters of Texas supports an effective state juvenile justice system and programs and policies to prevent juvenile violence and crime. We support the following:
- an adequate level of state funding for the juvenile justice system and for addressing the problem of juvenile crime; in allocating state funds for these purposes, highest priority should be given to prevention, followed by intervention and then corrections; funding responsibility should be shared by city and county governments, school districts, and private sources
- rehabilitation as the main goal of the juvenile justice system, with every juvenile committed to the Texas Youth Commission having access to adequate and appropriate rehabilitation services and programs
- coordination of information and services between social service agencies and the juvenile justice system
- adequate access to juvenile records by law enforcement agencies
- provision that juvenile offenders under age ten may be referred to the juvenile justice system; the minimum age for adult certification of juvenile offenders should not be lower than fifteen
- strict regulation of possession of firearms by juveniles; adults who furnish illegal firearms to juveniles should be held criminally liable
If boot camps are used as a correctional measure, they should:
- feature careful pre-placement screening
- be limited to non-violent offenders
- provide for parental involvement when appropriate include programs that build self-esteem
- be non-abusive
- emphasize rehabilitation
- provide meaningful tasks for the juveniles
- provide for follow-up.
Cultural bias in the juvenile justice system should be addressed through:
- review and revision of juvenile justice system policies and practices that may have a discriminatory effect
- increased access to competent legal counsel
- early access to prevention/intervention programs
- cultural awareness training for juvenile justice professionals.
A comprehensive juvenile violence and delinquency prevention strategy should include, but not be limited to:
- self esteem enhancement/development
- classes in parenting skills/family relations
- quality child care programs
- opportunities for healthy bonding with an individual or group
- classes in alternatives to violence as a means of resolving dispute
- drug education programs
- sexuality education
- gang prevention programs.
A comprehensive juvenile violence and delinquency intervention strategy should include, but not be limited to:
- immediate intervention when delinquent behavior first occurs
- a broad range of graduated sanctions
- accountability of offenders
- a continuum of services that meets individual needs of offenders
- drug education and rehabilitation programs
- family treatment programs
- gang intervention programs.
The state should require schools to provide alternative education programs for students with severe behavioral problems. The state should encourage schools to:
- teach alternatives to violence
- provide alternative education programs for truants and other at-risk students.
Delegates to the 1993 LWV-TX Convention voted to re-study the juvenile justice system in Texas and to look into the problem of juvenile violence as well. A Facts & Issues, Juvenile Violence and the Juvenile Justice System in Texas, was produced by the study committee and circulated to all members, selected government officials and agencies, and other interested groups and individuals. Consensus was reached in the fall of 1994, and the new position was approved by the state board in November of that year. The current position replaces the former juvenile justice position which had been adopted in 1977.