2010 Regular Session
To: Juvenile Justice
By: Representative Flaggs
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-321, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE DIRECTORS OF JUVENILE DETENTION CENTERS TO OBTAIN CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR CURRENT AND PROSPECTIVE DETENTION STAFF; TO PROVIDE THAT IF APPLICANTS FOR DETENTION STAFF POSITIONS HAVE CONVICTIONS FOR CERTAIN CRIMES THEN SUCH APPLICANTS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR EMPLOYMENT; TO PROVIDE THAT DIRECTORS MAY ALLOW EMPLOYMENT FOR APPLICANTS WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF CERTAIN CRIMES IF CERTAIN MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SHOWN; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-21-321, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-321. (1) All juveniles shall undergo a health screening within one (1) hour of admission to any juvenile detention center, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible. Information obtained during the screening shall include, but shall not be limited to, the juvenile's:
(a) Mental health;
(b) Suicide risk;
(c) Alcohol and other drug use and abuse;
(d) Physical health;
(e) Aggressive behavior;
(f) Family relations;
(g) Peer relations;
(h) Social skills;
(i) Educational status; and
(j) Vocational status.
(2) If the screening instrument indicates that a juvenile is in need of emergency medical care or mental health intervention services, the detention staff shall refer those juveniles to the proper health care facility or community mental health service provider for further evaluation, as soon as reasonably possible. If the screening instrument, such as the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument version 2 (MAYSI-2) or other comparable mental health screening instrument indicates that the juvenile is in need of emergency medical care or mental health intervention services, the detention staff shall refer the juvenile to the proper health care facility or community mental health service provider for further evaluation, recommendation and referral for treatment, if necessary, within forty-eight (48) hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and statutory state holidays.
(3) All juveniles shall receive a thorough orientation to the center's procedures, rules, programs and services. The intake process shall operate twenty-four (24) hours per day.
(4) The directors of all of the juvenile detention centers shall amend or develop written procedures for admission of juveniles who are new to the system. These shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Determine that the juvenile is legally committed to the facility;
(b) Make a complete search of the juvenile and his possessions;
(c) Dispose of personal property;
(d) Require shower and hair care, if necessary;
(e) Issue clean, laundered clothing, as needed;
(f) Issue personal hygiene articles;
(g) Perform medical, dental and mental health screening;
(h) Assign a housing unit for the juvenile;
(i) Record basic personal data and information to be used for mail and visiting lists;
(j) Assist juveniles in notifying their families of their admission and procedures for mail and visiting;
(k) Assign a registered number to the juvenile; and
(l) Provide written orientation materials to the juvenile.
(5) If a student's detention will cause him or her to miss one or more days of school the detention center staff shall notify school district officials where the detainee last attended school by the first school day following the student's placement in the facility. Detention center staff shall not disclose youth court records to the school district, except as provided by Section 43-21-261.
(6) All juvenile detention centers shall adhere to the following minimum standards:
(a) Each center shall have a manual that states the policies and procedures for operating and maintaining the facility, and the manual shall be reviewed annually and revised as needed;
(b) Each center shall have a policy that specifies support for a drug-free workplace for all employees, and the policy shall, at a minimum, include the following:
(i) The prohibition of the use of illegal drugs;
(ii) The prohibition of the possession of any illegal drugs except in the performance of official duties;
(iii) The procedure used to ensure compliance with a drug-free workplace policy;
(iv) The opportunities available for the treatment and counseling for drug abuse; and
(v) The penalties for violation of the drug-free workplace policy;
(c) Each center shall have a policy, procedure and practice that ensures that personnel files and records are current, accurate and confidential;
(d) Each center shall promote the safety and protection of juvenile detainees from personal abuse, corporal punishment, personal injury, disease, property damage and harassment;
(e) Each center shall have written policies that allow for mail and telephone rights for juvenile detainees, and the policies are to be made available to all staff and reviewed annually;
(f) Center food service personnel shall implement sanitation practices based on State Department of Health food codes;
(g) Each center shall provide juveniles with meals that are nutritionally adequate and properly prepared, stored and served according to the State Department of Health food codes;
(h) Each center shall offer special diet food plans to juveniles under the following conditions:
(i) When prescribed by appropriate medical or dental staff; or
(ii) As directed or approved by a registered dietitian or physician; and
(iii) As a complete meal service and not as a supplement to or choice between dietary meals and regular meals;
(i) Each center shall serve religious diets when approved and petitioned in writing by a religious professional on behalf of a juvenile and approved by the juvenile detention center director;
(j) Juvenile detention center directors shall provide a written method of ensuring regular monitoring of daily housekeeping, pest control and sanitation practices, and centers shall comply with all federal, state and local sanitation and health codes;
(k) Juvenile detention center staff shall screen detainees for medical, dental and mental health needs during the intake process. If medical, dental or mental health assistance is indicated by the screening, or if the intake officer deems it necessary, the detainee shall be provided access to appropriate health care professionals for evaluation and treatment. Youth who are held less than seventy-two (72) hours shall receive treatment for emergency medical, dental or mental health assistance or chronic conditions if a screening indicates such treatment is needed. A medical history of all detainees shall be completed by the intake staff of the detention center immediately after arrival at the facility by using a medical history form which shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(i) Any medical, dental and mental health treatments and medications the juvenile is taking;
(ii) Any chronic health problems such as allergies, seizures, diabetes, hearing or sight loss, hearing conditions or any other health problems; and
(iii) Documentation of all medications administered and all health care services rendered;
(l) Juvenile detention center detainees shall be provided access to medical care and treatment while in custody of the facility;
(m) Each center shall provide reasonable access by youth services or county counselors for counseling opportunities. The youth service or county counselor shall visit with detainees on a regular basis;
(n) Juvenile detention center detainees shall be referred to other counseling services when necessary including: mental health services; crisis intervention; referrals for treatment of drugs and alcohol and special offender treatment groups;
(o) Local school districts shall work collaboratively with juvenile detention center staff to provide special education services as required by state and federal law. Upon the written request of the youth court judge for the county in which the detention center is located, a local school district in the county in which the detention center is located, or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district, shall provide a certified teacher to provide educational services to detainees. The youth court judge shall designate said school district which shall be defined as the sponsoring school district. The local home school district shall be defined as the school district where the detainee last attended prior to detention. Teacher selection shall be in consultation with the youth court judge. The Legislature shall annually appropriate sufficient funds for the provision of educational services, as provided under this section, to detainees in detention centers;
(p) The sponsoring school district, or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district, shall be responsible for providing the necessary instructional program for the student. After forty-eight (48) hours of detention, excluding legal holidays and weekends, the detainee shall receive the following services which may be computer-based:
(i) Diagnostic assessment of grade-level mastery of reading and math skills;
(ii) Individualized instruction and practice to address any weaknesses identified in the assessment conducted under subparagraph (i), provided such detainee is in the center for more than forty-eight (48) hours; and
(iii) Character education to improve behavior;
(q) No later than the tenth day of detention, the detainee shall begin an extended detention education program. A team consisting of a certified teacher provided by the local sponsoring school district or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district, the appropriate official from the local home school district, and the youth court counselor or representative will develop an individualized education program for the detainee, where appropriate as determined by the teacher of the sponsoring school district, or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district. The detainee's parent or guardian shall participate on the team unless excused by the youth court judge. Failure of any party to participate shall not delay implementation of this education program;
(r) The sponsoring school district, or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district, shall provide the detention center with an appropriate and adequate computer lab to serve detainees. The Legislature shall annually appropriate sufficient funds to equip and maintain the computer labs. The computer lab shall become the property of the detention centers and the sponsoring school districts shall maintain and update the labs;
(s) The Mississippi Department of Education will collaborate with the appropriate state and local agencies, juvenile detention centers and local school districts to ensure the provision of educational services to every student placed in a juvenile detention center. Such services may include, but not be limited to: assessment and math and reading instruction, character education and behavioral counseling. The Mississippi Department of Education shall work with the appropriate state and local agencies, juvenile detention centers and local school districts to annually determine the proposed costs for educational services to youth placed in juvenile detention centers and annually request sufficient funding for such services as necessary;
(t) Recreational services shall be made available to juvenile detainees for purpose of physical exercise;
(u) Juvenile detention center detainees shall have the opportunity to participate in the practices of their religious faith as long as such practices do not violate facility rules and are approved by the director of the juvenile detention center;
(v) Each center shall provide sufficient space for a visiting room, and the facility shall encourage juveniles to maintain ties with families through visitation, and the detainees shall be allowed the opportunity to visit with the social workers, counselors and lawyers involved in the juvenile's care;
(w) Juvenile detention centers shall ensure that staffs create transition planning for youth leaving the facilities. Plans shall include providing the youth and his or her parents or guardian with copies of the youth's detention center education and health records, information regarding the youth's home community, referrals to mental and counseling services when appropriate, and providing assistance in making initial appointments with community service providers; the transition team will work together to help the detainee successfully transition back into the home school district once released from detention. The transition team will consist of a certified teacher provided by the local sponsoring school district, or a private provider agreed upon by the youth court judge and sponsoring school district, the appropriate official from the local home school district, the school attendance officer assigned to the local home school district, and the youth court counselor or representative. The detainee's parent or guardian shall participate on the team unless excused by the youth court judge. Failure of any party to participate shall not delay implementation of this education program; and
(x) The Juvenile Detention Facilities Monitoring Unit shall monitor the detention facilities for compliance with these minimum standards, and no child shall be housed in a detention facility the monitoring unit determines is substantially out of compliance with the standards prescribed in this subsection.
(7) Programs and services shall be initiated for all juveniles once they have completed the admissions process.
(8) Programs and professional services may be provided by the detention staff, youth court staff or the staff of the local or state agencies, or those programs and professional services may be provided through contractual arrangements with community agencies.
(9) Persons providing the services required in this section must be qualified or trained in their respective fields.
(10) (a) From and after July 1, 2010, all directors of juvenile detention centers shall require that, for any current or prospective detention staff, all criminal records, background and sex offender registries and current child abuse registries be obtained and checked.
(b) In order to determine an applicant's suitability for employment as detention staff, the applicant shall be fingerprinted and if no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprint shall be forwarded by the Department of Public Safety to the FBI for a national criminal history record check.
(c) If an applicant's fingerprinting or criminal records check discloses a felony conviction, guilty pleas or plea of nolo contendere to a felony of possession or sale of drugs, murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, rape, sexual battery, child abuse, arson, grand larceny, burglary, gratification of lust, or a sex offense listed in Section 45-33-23(g) that has not been reversed on appeal or for which a pardon has not been granted, the applicant is not eligible for employment as detention staff. Any employment of an applicant pending the results of the fingerprinting and criminal records check is voidable if a new hire receives a disqualifying criminal records check. However, a director of a juvenile detention center, in his or her discretion, may allow an applicant aggrieved by the disqualifying criminal check to show mitigating circumstance that may exist and allow the applicant to be employed as detention staff. Directors of juvenile detention centers may grant waivers for mitigating circumstances, which may include, but are not necessarily limited to: (i) age at which the crime was committed; (ii) circumstances surrounding the crime; (iii) length of time since the conviction and criminal history since the conviction; (iv) work history; (v) current employment and character references; and (vi) other evidence demonstrating the ability of the applicant to perform the responsibilities of a detention staff competently and that the applicants do not pose a threat to the health or safety of the children.
(11) All directors of juvenile detention centers shall amend or develop written procedures to fit the requirements, programs and services described in this section.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2010.