Over the past four months, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the new juvenile delinquency legislation, S.L. 2015-58, with juvenile court officials from every part of the system – prosecutors, defenders, judges, and most recently, juvenile court counselors. While each group had distinct questions and concerns, one particular issue universally generated the most discussion. That issue was intermittent confinement (short periods of confinement in juvenile detention) or “IC days” and how the amendments to G.S. 7B-2506(12) and (20) change the way it is “imposed.” The amended statutes mandate that only judges may determine the imposition of IC days, whereas previously, judges were only required to determine the timing of the confinement. In a recent post, I explained that this change was designed to prevent judges from improperly delegating their authority to court counselors by suspending IC days and ordering court counselors to impose them immediately upon the juvenile’s noncompliance with certain conditions. This practice will soon be prohibited (as of December 1, 2015), since the new law clarifies that only the court may impose the confinement. However, the lack of specific guidelines has left judges and court counselors wondering what they must do to comply with the statute. Here are some additional thoughts about how I think this legislation will impact the court.Continue Reading
Improper Delegation of Authority and Intermittent Confinement
Last month, I wrote a blog post about the recently enacted Juvenile Code Reform legislation (S.L. 2015-58, HB 879), which creates several new laws affecting delinquent juveniles. The last section of the bill amends G.S. 7B-2506(12) and (20), which authorize intermittent confinement in a juvenile detention facility as a Level 1 or Level 2 dispositional alternative. Currently, the trial court must determine the timing of the intermittent confinement, but beginning December 1, 2015, it must also determine the imposition of the confinement. Although this change appears to be minor, it addresses a major issue related to juvenile dispositions – the improper delegation of the trial court’s authority, typically, to court counselors. Most of the calls I get about improper delegation of authority in juvenile court concern intermittent confinement, and particularly, how it is imposed. This post will examine how the new legislation was designed to address these concerns by changing the way district court judges impose intermittent confinement.