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Letter: County leading way in juvenile justice

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

Once again, we are trailblazers. As with other justice initiatives such as family court, community corrections and court alternative dispute resolution programs, Johnson County is on the cutting edge.

The Indiana Supreme Court recently announced that the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in Indiana will expand from its current eight counties to 19 counties as the initiative expands across the state. This is good news for Indiana’s children, families and communities. The initiative is a proven approach to juvenile justice developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that improves outcomes for children in the justice system, ensures public safety and contains costs for taxpayers.

Johnson County officially joined Indiana’s initiative in 2010-2011, but our work started much earlier, in 2007. Through collaboration, measuring outcomes and designing innovative programs to reduce delinquent behavior, Johnson County has developed a state-of-the-art system that is held up as a model to other jurisdictions.

Thanks to our juvenile justice reform efforts, during a period of rapid population growth, the juvenile delinquency rate has fallen in Johnson County. We have also been able to reduce the risk that a juvenile will re-offend in 72 percent of the cases we see.

Because of our involvement in the initiative, we have been able to secure grant funding from Indiana and other sources of over $200,000, helping to enrich and improve our system with no additional burden to local taxpayers.

We have also cut in nearly half the time it takes to process a juvenile’s case, from 82 days in 2007 to 45.6 days in 2013. In fact, 46 percent of juvenile justice cases are resolved in 30 days or less. Speedier justice means a faster response to juvenile crime and an earlier intervention to stop problem behavior.

As 11 new counties work to implement this approach, Johnson County juvenile justice leaders will continue to serve on state-level committees and work groups and proudly stand as an example and a resource, helping other counties achieve positive results and safer communities.

Marla Clark,


Johnson Circuit Court


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