It is with great honor that as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, I share with you recent juvenile justice developments and reforms. This letter will outline a number of major reform efforts underscoring our commitment and dedication to assist and foster positive developments in juvenile justice. Through these efforts and future collaborations with juvenile justice stakeholders, we will improve the level of juvenile services provided to youth in our care, and assist in improving services throughout all levels of the juvenile justice system. In so doing, we can improve lives, and reduce juvenile and adult recidivism rates.
With this philosophy in mind, we have established the Division of Youth Services (DYS) to oversee all aspects of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) juvenile care. We recognize that impacting the lives of troubled youth requires separate adult and juvenile services. DYS has established a division logo portraying the words Accountability, Beliefs and Commitment. DYS has adopted the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model to serve as the foundation and core beliefs in providing juvenile justice services. The core beliefs of this model will provide the overarching, guiding principle for facility operations, treatment programs, youth development, and community re-entry. DYS recently established vision and mission statements. Our vision is to positively impact the future of Indiana’s delinquent youth to foster responsible citizenship. Our mission is community protection, accountability, beliefs that foster responsible community living and competency development. DYS strives to promote youth development in a Calm Profession Respectful (CPR) manner.
Many of the strengths in the current system can be attributed to the dedicated staff and programs throughout the juvenile justice system. The 2007 IDOC Juvenile Recidivism Report reveals that of the 1,543 juveniles released in 2004, only 18.4% have committed an adult crime, reflecting a success rate of 81.6%. These successes are the result of the dedicated and committed staff who come to work every day, often times under extremely difficult and frustrating conditions, in order to make a difference in the lives of youth.
Re-entry into a successful environment is a key factor in promoting continued positive development and will be a major DYS focus. The release planning process is critically important for future success. Our youth need a re-entry plan that provides a continuation of care and services into the community beyond what IDOC can provide. Youth are sometimes returned to our custody simply because they no longer have a viable placement option, and/or living conditions fall short of acceptable care. In these cases, IDOC becomes a placement alternative. In such cases, youth may no longer be provided care and services in the least restrictive environment, nor receive services through the most appropriate means.
Policy revisions are being reviewed which will give committing counties the opportunity to re-assume jurisdiction over these youth prior to release. When juveniles complete the mandated facility treatment program, the Court will receive written notification and a summary of treatment progress forty (40) days prior to the youth’s established release date. When appropriate, the court may re-assume jurisdiction of the youth in order to ensure continuation of services and care. When a youth is discharged from IDOC, they should not be returned to secure confinement simply because of placement issues. The IDOC will work with the counties and the Department of Child Services to identify services and appropriate community programs.
Attached is a short PowerPoint presentation
outlining some DYS reform efforts and our focus on juvenile justice issues. It is my hope that we can all work together to improve the lives of troubled youth while endeavoring to improve services throughout all levels of our juvenile justice system. Again, you have my commitment and the full support of DYS to provide appropriate care and treatment for youth in secure confinement. I look forward to future collaboration efforts that will benefit the youth we all serve