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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Arkansas’ purpose clause retains some parens patriae language and mentions that parties are "assured a fair hearing and their constitutional and other legal rights recognized and enforced," which aligns with language found in the Legislative Guide for Drafting Juvenile and Family Court Acts (1969) of the due process era.  Phrases from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) were also noted. 

AR ST §9-27-302

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.

In Arkansas, if a juvenile is taken into custody and not released by law enforcement or a juvenile intake officer (JPO), a detention hearing must be held within 72 hours. Otherwise, when a complaint is received by the court, following preliminary investigation by the JPO, decisions are made at the discretion of the prosecutor (DA) for delinquency allegations and by the JPO for ‘family in need of services’ referrals. Participation in diversion programs require that the juvenile admit involvement with the respective act/s to proceed. Written diversion agreements for ‘non-judicial probation under supervision’ are monitored by JPO or designee, and may include conditions such as: participation in a court-approved program of education, counseling, or treatment by a public/private agency for up to 6 months. Participation and compliance with teen court or drug court dispositions, and/or enrollment in the Regional Educational Career Alternative School System for Adjudicated Youth and other conditions can extend up to 9 months. Juveniles must consent to the agreement with either advice from their attorney or consent of the parent to participate. The DA must sign diversion agreements when felonious delinquent acts are alleged, and to divert truancy-related ‘families in need of services’ complaints. Upon successful completion, the juvenile is dismissed with no further proceedings and the petition may be expunged.

If a petition is filed within this period, the juvenile's compliance with all proper and reasonable terms of the agreement shall be grounds for dismissal of the petition by the court. Also, once a delinquency petition is filed by the DA, it can be converted to a ‘family in need of services petition or case,’ which could be considered a statutory provision for diversion from delinquency.

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

In Arkansas, court diversions can be monitored for up to 6 months, and some conditions can extend up to 9 months. A statutory section mentions that a delinquency petition can be converted to a ‘family in need of services petition or case,’ which may result in longer (consecutive) periods of diversion.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

In Arkansas, juvenile statute refers to application of (adult) crimes code competency procedures to delinquency proceedings including Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction designations, which align with the Dusky standard. Procedures for “Fitness-to-proceed” require (as part of EJJ proceedings) examinations of any juvenile under age 13 is facing certain murderous allegations, as the juvenile is presumed incompetent. If the prosecutor cannot overcome the presumption, a (regular) delinquency petition can be filed. Examiners must have experience and training in the evaluation of juveniles, and report elements (as well as what to review and consider) are 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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