Juvenile Court adapting to COVID changes

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 1:30 PM CDT
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The North Dakota Juvenile Court System is having to adapt to the changes caused by coronavirus restrictions.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation over looks the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan. However, COVID-19 restrictions have suspended the intake of new inmates to the youth facility.

“In the event that a juvenile is detained by law enforcement, law enforcement would reach out to the detention or attendance care facility to determine where they can be taken,” said Carrie Hjellming, director of Juvenile Court.

Hjellming says the West Central regional Detention Center in Moorhead, Minn., is still accepting youth at this time, but is unsure for how long.

In an administrative order signed by the North Dakota Supreme Court in March all jury trials were suspended until April 24. Classes taught by juvenile courts were also discontinued until further notice.

“We continue to provide supervision and programs for the youth involved in the juvenile justice system through video/phone conferencing and other methods,” said Hjellming.

In the 2018 juvenile court annual report, 50% of all delinquent and unruly offenses occurred in the community such as stores, streets, and parks.

"We cannot definitively say that juvenile crime has increased or decreased as a result of school not being in session,” said Hjellming.

According to the report, 43% of referrals to juvenile courts was for delinquent offense. More than 2,000 of those cases for unruly offenses such as curfew, runaway, tobacco possession, and minor in possession.

“Juvenile Court will continue to provide support and additional interventions as needed to the clients, families, and the victims they work with,” said Hjellming.

The administrative order is set to expire o April 24. There is no word if it will be extended or not.