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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform | AZ

Arizona: 2013 | 2012  | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 


  • Juvenile Defense and Court Process — Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Fifth Amendment Protections for Youth
    The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the Fifth Amendment rights of a 16-year-old who was arrested, handcuffed, questioned, and had blood drawn at school after being held for two hours without access to his parents. The decision referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S. Ct. 2394 (2011), and held that a youth’s age is relevant when assessing whether he or she voluntarily consented to a blood draw. The court noted that youth “possess less maturity” and stated that “courts should not blind themselves to this reality.” State of Arizona v. Hon. Jane A. Butler and Tyler B., CV-12-0402-PR (Arizona 2013).


  • Conditions of Confinement — Arizona Law Prohibits the Use of Restraints on Pregnant Women in Prison
    A new Arizona law prohibits the use of restraints on women who are pregnant and in prison or detention. Restraints may be used only if requested by medical staff, or in extraordinary circumstances. If restraints are used, they must be used in the least restrictive manner possible, and corrections officials must write a report detailing the reasons why restraints were used. Both juvenile detention centers and juvenile correctional facilities must adopt policies pursuant to the new law. S.B. 1184/Act No. 43, signed into law March 20, 2012; effective March 20, 2012 and April 20, 2012.
  • Conditions of Confinement — Arizona Expands Education Opportunities for Committed Youth
    The Arizona State Legislature amended state law to require an appropriate education plan for youth committed to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC) or who are supervised in the community. ADJC may assign a youth to a specific public or private educational program, if it is in the best interest of the youth and the community. S.B. 1037/Act No. 354, signed into law May 14, 2012; effective August 2, 2012.


  • Conditions of Confinement — State Criminalizes Unlawful Sexual Conduct of Juvenile Court Employees: A new Arizona law extends to all incarcerated youth the protections of an existing law that makes it a felony to sexually exploit an individual in correctional custody. In Arizona, a correctional facility employee commits unlawful sexual conduct by intentionally or knowingly engaging in an act of sexual nature with a prisoner by either threatening to negatively influence the prisoner’s supervision or release status, or offering to positively influence the prisoner’s supervision or release status through the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections, the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, a private prison facility, a city or county jail, or an offender who is under their supervision. This provision also applies to contract employees, visitors, volunteers, or agency representatives. However, until recently, the law did not apply to juvenile detention facilities, adult probation  officers, or juvenile court employees. The legislation establishes the offense and classifies the acts as felonies. It also specifies that making a false report or coercing someone to make a false report of unlawful sexual conduct is a misdemeanor offense. S.B. 1130/Ch. 226, signed into law April 25, 2011; effective July 20, 2011.
  • Facility Closures and Downsizing — Department of Juvenile Corrections Closes Juvenile Facility: In October 2011, the Catalina Mountain School was the second Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC) facility to close over the course of three years (the Eagle Point School closed in 2009). Additionally, two separately administered facilities—one for boys and the other for girls—now have combined management, leaving the state with only one remaining ADJC campus in Phoenix. The closures reduced the overall number of youth in ADJC facilities from 600 in FY 08-09 to a current total of around 400. Under new administration, ADJC has vowed to improve the educational, therapeutic, and transitional programming available to all youth at the remaining Phoenix facility. The Catalina Mountain School closure resulted in a $2.5 million savings in FY 2012, $1 million of which ADJC was authorized to use for structural improvements to the remaining juvenile facility. An annualized reduction of $3.8 million is expected in FY 2013 (based on the original FY 2012 appropriation).
  • Youth in the Adult System — Judges Gain More Discretion Regarding Transfer to Adult System: A new Arizona law gives judges more discretion in certain cases to decide whether prosecution of youth in adult or juvenile court will best protect public safety and promote rehabilitation. Since 1997, Arizona prosecutors have been able, at their sole discretion, to charge youth as young as 14 as adults for a wide variety of offenses, including nonviolent crimes. In 2007, judges were given discretion in certain sex offense cases to hold “reverse remand hearings” to determine whether youth should be tried as adults; the new law expands reverse remand hearings to include other types of crimes filed through prosecutorial discretion. S.B. 1191/Ch. 206, signed into law April 19, 2011; effective July 20, 2011.

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  • Youth in the Adult System — Legislation Restricts Prosecutorial Authority to Transfer Youth: A new Arizona law clarifies the age at which a youth can be tried in adult court without the benefit of a judicial transfer hearing. In Arizona, the prosecution of certain youth cases in adult court is statutorily allowed or required based on the youth’s age. The legislation clarifies that the filing in adult court must be based on the youth’s age at the time of the alleged offense—not the age at the time the charges are filed. Prior to this clarification, prosecutors delayed filing charges for months (and sometimes years) for the purpose of moving the case to the adult criminal court without having to go through a judicial transfer hearing. S.B. 1009/Ch. 183, signed into law April 27, 2010; effective July 29, 2010.

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  • Conditions of Confinement — Supreme Court Adopts Juvenile Detention Standards: The Arizona Supreme Court developed detailed juvenile detention standards to be followed by all Arizona juvenile courts. The standards cover a wide array of topics, including personnel, monitoring, risk assessments, academic services, health services, recreation, juvenile rights, restraints, food services, and facility design. Implementation of the standards in 2010 has led to six operational reviews and improvements to policies, practices, and services provided to detained youth. Positive changes include reduction in the time frame for requesting educational and medical records; improved staffing ratios; officer training; collaborations with community agencies to improve medical and behavioral health services; development and improvement of positive reinforcement-based behavior management systems; and improvements in direct supervision of youth.

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Photo: Rowan, under Creative Commons License.