In approximately 1973, juvenile offenders, represented by Central Arkansas Legal Services and private counsel, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of Arkansas against Pulaski County officials challenging procedures employed with juvenile offenders. While we do ...
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In approximately 1973, juvenile offenders, represented by Central Arkansas Legal Services and private counsel, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of Arkansas against Pulaski County officials challenging procedures employed with juvenile offenders. While we do not have a copy of the complaint, on August 13, 1979, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Judge Thomas Eisele) approved a consent decree between the parties. Thomas v. Mears, 474 F.Supp. 908 (E.D. Ark. 1979). The decree covered issues including intake, preliminary inquiry, assistance of counsel, conditions of confinement, and adjudicatory and dispositional hearings.
Specifically with respect to detention intake, the county was required to notify parents immediately and give a hearing within seventy-two hours. In addition, the decree required the county to conduct a preliminary inquiry and release children where possible following counseling. It provided that juveniles are entitled to legal counsel in a detention hearing. Further, it required that children generally be kept in open care confinement with secure custody and individual confinement being used only for juveniles who had demonstrated they were a serious threat to themselves or others.
With respect to hearings, the decree required that no child should be adjudicated delinquent unless his guilt was established beyond a reasonable doubt at an adjudicatory hearing, and that prior to a dispositional hearing, a social investigation should be made by the probation officer concerning the child's need for counseling, additional conditions of probation, or placement outside of the child's home. Also the court stated that the Juvenile Detention Center should be used only as short-term confinement for children awaiting a hearing. Further, it required the county to continue improving the physical plant of the center including making all applications for funds necessary to complete work. The court retained jurisdiction of this case until December 31, 1980 to ensure compliance.Emilee Baker - 05/16/2006