“Every summer we know that the entering autos are gonna go up, and small burglaries,” Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said.
Delinquency changes, though, do not necessarily appear in the juvenile court quickly.
“It doesn’t hit us immediately unless there’s a detention hearing,” Juvenile Court Judge Velma Tilley said. “It doesn’t immediately come to our attention. We could pull the numbers, but generally speaking there has not been an increase for us. Typically there is an increase as soon as school is out and kids are unsupervised, but it doesn’t immediately show in our court room.”
While the juvenile court handles cases of delinquency and unruliness, Tilley said that deprivation issues are the majority of cases that appear before the court.
“The deprivation side, which is really the majority of what we do, is where the children need the protection of the court where the families are the ones that are the problem and we’re trying to rehabilitate the family,” Tilley said. “We’re protecting the children from whatever environment the family is causing to harm them. It’s abuse and neglect and there are different kinds, particularly in abuse.”
Age ranges for children whose cases fall under the juvenile court jurisdiction vary depending on the type of case. For delinquent children, they may appear in juvenile court up to age 17. Once they reach 17 years old, those young people are eligible to have their cases heard in Superior Court. On the unruly side, parents have control of the child until they turn 18 years old. An unruly case, Tilley said, typically deals with children who are not obeying the rules of the home, going to school or violating curfew. Deprivation cases are heard through the age of 18 as well. Young people placed on probation through the juvenile court remain under the jurisdiction of that court until they turn 17, but new charges that appear after the child turns 17 years old will not be heard in the juvenile court.
The department operates with 10 full-time employees and one part-time person who claim $565,000 for salaries out of the department’s $1.1 million budget for the year.
Aside from salaries, the court’s largest budgeted line item is for court-appointed attorneys.
“On the delinquency and unruly side, that’s a smaller portion of our budget because that’s a smaller portion of what we do, but they do represent children charged with crimes or alleged to be unruly,” Tilley said. “On the deprived side, that’s the big chunk of our money because typically we have to have attorneys for children for the state’s interest in the child depending on how old they are, but also we have to appoint attorneys for the parents. Sometimes moms and dads can share an attorney if their interests are not in conflict, but if there’s any hint of their interests being in conflict, for instance, if there’s domestic violence between them or if they’re not married or if there are multiple fathers, which sometimes there are, then we have an attorney for a mom and an attorney for a father or an attorney for a father and father. Frequently, I have at least three court-appointed attorneys in there in one deprivation case.
“Deprivation is a civil matter but criminal charges could come from it based upon whatever has happened for the child. There is a charge that comes under the same statute of contributing to the delinquency of a minor — contributing to the deprivation of a child. Any parent could be charged with that if they’re in court and found to have deprived their child. Cruelty to children is one of those things people get charged with, typically in times like when there’s domestic violence between the parents.”
In some cases, a doctor may need to be subpoenaed for a trial or medical purposes. When those cases arise, the court has $4,000 included in the budget to pay the physician.
“Sometimes we use those funds to pay when we have a doctor come testify if somebody else isn’t paying for that,” Tilley said. “For instance, with the Department of Family and Children Services, if they’re proving the case, that will come out of their budget. If it’s not out of their budget and the court-appointed attorney wants to subpoena a position and there’s no one else to pay for it, the court will pay for that. Sometimes we will pay for psychological [exams] out of that if we don’t have another category. It’s a place to pay for doctor services if we don’t have another fund to pay for those services from, [but] lots of times we do have another fund to pay for those services.”
Other fees that may need to be paid in cases heard by the court include witness fees. Budgeted at $400, witness fees are rare but included as a precaution.
“There’s a statutory time when we’re supposed to pay people fees and that is when they come from outside the county and they get mileage and officers who are off duty,” Tilley said.
Aside from attorney fees, the largest line item at $31,000 is for the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program.
“We do intensive outpatient for kids, [and] we have an anger management piece to that, too,” Tilley said. “Those are programs that we offer to our delinquent and unruly children. The intensive outpatient is individual counseling and a substance abuse education room, which is the group counseling, and juvenile anger management. We have a lot of kids abusing drugs.”
The Purchase of Services line item, set at $10,000, focuses on the mental condition for juveniles and parents.
“Those are grant funds where we pay for psychological [exams], mostly,” Tilley said. “That’s primarily psychological exams and counseling and that’s the fund we would pay those doctor services out of.”
Every year the two juvenile court judges and clerks must attend education and training sessions. Tilley typically attends two sessions where judges are educated on a number of issues. For that training, $1,000 is included in the budget.
“We get trained on new trends in delinquency, things about probation [and] we were trained on sexual abuse in the last one that I went to,” Tilley said. “We get case law updates and in the fall we’re gonna get extensive training on the new evidence code, which has just come out.”
Along with education fees, the court also pays dues to the BAR association and clerk’s dues with $1,500 allotted for that need and $2,500 designated for travel to training seminars.
Another means of keeping up with changes in law requires budgeting $1,000 for books and periodicals, which mainly includes the Georgia code.
Other costs included in the court’s budget are: repair and maintenance of office equipment at $6,000; telephone expenses at $1,000; office supplies at $7,500; and computers at $1,200.