1997 Regular Session
To: Juvenile Justice
By: Representatives Moody, Warren
House Bill 688
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-257, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO TRANSFER THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMPILING THE ANNUAL YOUTH COURT STATISTICAL REPORT FROM THE DIVISION OF YOUTH SERVICES TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF COURTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-21-257, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-257. (1) Unless otherwise provided in this section, any record involving children, including valid and invalid complaints, and the contents thereof maintained by the Department of Human Services, or any other state agency, shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in Section 43-21-261.
(2) The Administrative Office of Courts established in Section 9-21-1 shall maintain a state central registry containing the number and disposition of all cases together with such other useful information regarding such cases as may be requested and is obtainable from the records of the youth court. The Administrative Office of Courts shall annually publish a statistical record of the number and disposition of all cases, but the names or identity of any children shall not be disclosed in the reports or records. The Administrative Office of Courts shall adopt such rules as may be necessary to carry out this subsection. The central registry files and the contents thereof shall be confidential and shall not be open to public inspection. Any person who shall disclose or encourage the disclosure of any record involving children from the central registry shall be subject to the penalty in Section 43-21-267. The youth court shall furnish, upon forms provided by the Administrative Office of Courts, the necessary information, and these completed forms shall be forwarded to the Administrative Office of Courts.
(3) The Department of Human Services shall maintain a state central registry on neglect and abuse cases containing (a) the name, address and age of each child, (b) the nature of the harm reported, (c) the name and address of the person responsible for the care of the child, and (d) the name and address of the substantiated perpetrator of the harm reported. The Department of Human Services shall adopt such rules and administrative procedures, especially those procedures to afford due process to individuals who have been named as substantiated perpetrators prior to the release of their name from the registry, as may be necessary to carry out this subsection. The central registry shall be confidential and shall not be open to public inspection. Any person who shall disclose or encourage the disclosure of any record involving children from the central registry without following the rules and administrative procedures of the department shall be subject to the penalty in Section 43-21-267. The Department of Human Services and its employees are hereby exempt from any civil liability as a result of any action taken pursuant to the compilation and/or release of information on the registry pursuant to this section and any other applicable section of the code. The Department of Human Services shall obtain an order of disclosure pursuant to Section 43-21-261 from the youth court of appropriate jurisdiction authorizing the release of information from the registry.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.