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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Alabama’s purpose clause retains some parens patriae language, but the clause meets criteria for BARJ as it mentions holding the delinquent child accountable, restitution to the victim, and that individualized factors affect accountability. Phrases from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) were also noted.

AL ST §12-15-101

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and diversion decision is at the discretion of the juvenile court intake officer.

In Alabama, promoting a continuum of community-based diversion programs as a deterrent and dispositional alternative is mandated. When law enforcement officers detain a child, the child must be taken to the court or court-designated place. The juvenile court intake officer (JCIO) may release the child home with conditions such as telephone or electronic monitoring, or admit the child to detention, shelter, or other care pending a detention hearing, which must be held within 72 hours.

Otherwise when complaints are received, the JCIO screens complaints and petitions alleging delinquency or a child in need of supervision to assure legal sufficiency and make the decision of whether to screen it out, handle the matter informally, or file the petition to initiate court involvement. The JCIO may propose an informal adjustment process as a pre-petition diversion. Informal adjustments require consent of the juvenile and parent/s and must include counseling and advice to the child and parents. Agreement conditions can include: supervision by the JCIO, temporary placement away from home, and referrals to public or private agencies for up to 6 months. Judges and other designees may perform this function upon JCIO referral. District Attorneys (DA) provide assistance upon request. Upon successful completion of terms, the court process is terminated.

Once a petition is filed, proceedings can be suspended under supervision without adjudication with consent of the juvenile and parent/s. Consent decrees can be in force for six months and extended an additional 6 months by the court to complete terms imposed. The judge will hear DA objections, but makes the decision.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Alabama, pre-petition court diversions can last up to 6 months.  Post-petition consent decrees can be set in force for six months and extended an additional 6 months with judicial approval. 

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

In Alabama, the legal basis for juvenile competency determinations and related proceedings is found in juvenile statute, which aligns with the Dusky standard. Qualified examiners must have findings certified by a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, but elements of the report are not statutorily proscribed.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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