MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2005 Regular Session

To: Public Health and Human Services; Juvenile Justice

By: Representative Holland

House Bill 1528

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-603, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE TRANSFER OF COPIES OF A CHILD'S ORIGINAL CUMULATIVE SCHOOL RECORD AS A PREREQUIREMENT TO COMMITMENT TO A STATE TRAINING SCHOOL, AND TO DELETE THE AUTOMATIC REVERTER ON THE CODE SECTION PROVIDING YOUTH COURT DISPOSITION HEARING PROCEDURES AND ALTERNATIVES IN DELINQUENCY, CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD NEGLECT MATTERS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

†††† BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

†††† SECTION 1.† Section 43-21-603, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

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†††† 43-21-603.† (1)† At the beginning of each disposition hearing, the judge shall inform the parties of the purpose of the hearing.

†††† (2)† All testimony shall be under oath unless waived by all parties and may be in narrative form.† The court may consider any evidence that is material and relevant to the disposition of the cause, including hearsay and opinion evidence.† At the conclusion of the evidence, the youth court shall give the parties an opportunity to present oral argument.

†††† (3)† If the child has been adjudicated a delinquent child, before entering a disposition order, the youth court should consider, among others, the following relevant factors:

††††††††† (a)† The nature of the offense;

††††††††† (b)† The manner in which the offense was committed;

††††††††† (c)† The nature and number of a child's prior adjudicated offenses;

††††††††† (d)† The child's need for care and assistance;

††††††††† (e)† The child's current medical history, including medication and diagnosis;

††††††††† (f)† The child's mental health history, which may include, but not be limited to, the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument version 2 (MAYSI-2);

††††††††† (g)† Copies of cumulative record from the last school of record, including special education records, if applicable;

††††††††† (h)† Recommendation from the school of record based on areas of remediation needed;

††††††††† (i)† Disciplinary records from the school of record; and

††††††††† (j)† Records of disciplinary actions outside of the school setting.

†††† (4)† If the child has been adjudicated a child in need of supervision, before entering a disposition order, the youth court should consider, among others, the following relevant factors:

††††††††† (a)† The nature and history of the child's conduct;

††††††††† (b)† The family and home situation; and

††††††††† (c)† The child's need of care and assistance.

†††† (5)† If the child has been adjudicated a neglected child or an abused child, before entering a disposition order, the youth court shall consider, among others, the following relevant factors:

††††††††† (a)† The child's physical and mental conditions;

††††††††† (b)† The child's need of assistance;

††††††††† (c)† The manner in which the parent, guardian or custodian participated in, tolerated or condoned the abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child;

††††††††† (d)† The ability of a child's parent, guardian or custodian to provide proper supervision and care of a child; and

††††††††† (e)† Relevant testimony and recommendations, where available, from the foster parent of the child, the grandparents of the child, the guardian ad litem of the child, representatives of any private care agency that has cared for the child, the social worker or child protection specialist assigned to the case, and any other relevant testimony pertaining to the case.

†††† (6)† After consideration of all the evidence and the relevant factors, the youth court shall enter a disposition order that shall not recite any of the facts or circumstances upon which the disposition is based, nor shall it recite that a child has been found guilty; but it shall recite that a child is found to be a delinquent child, a child in need of supervision, a neglected child or an abused child.

†††† (7)† If the youth court orders that the custody or supervision of a child who has been adjudicated abused or neglected be placed with the Department of Human Services or any other person or public or private agency, other than the child's parent, guardian or custodian, the youth court shall find and the disposition order shall recite that:

††††††††† (a)† (i)† Reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his own home, but that the circumstances warrant his removal and there is no reasonable alternative to custody; or †††††††††† (ii)† The circumstances are of such an emergency nature that no reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his own home, and that there is no reasonable alternative to custody; and

††††††††† (b)† That the effect of the continuation of the child's residence within his own home would be contrary to the welfare of the child and that the placement of the child in foster care is in the best interests of the child; or

††††††††† (c)† Reasonable efforts to maintain the child within his home shall not be required if the court determines that:

††††††††††††† (i)† The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse and sexual abuse; or

††††††††††††† (ii)† The parent has been convicted of murder of another child of that parent, voluntary manslaughter of another child of that parent, aided or abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit that murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony assault that results in the serious bodily injury to the surviving child or another child of that parent; or

††††††††††††† (iii)† The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily; and

††††††††††††† (iv)† That the effect of the continuation of the child's residence within his own home would be contrary to the welfare of the child and that placement of the child in foster care is in the best interests of the child.

†††† Once the reasonable efforts requirement is bypassed, the court shall have a permanency hearing under Section 43-21-613 within thirty (30) days of the finding.

†††† (8)† Upon a written motion by a party, the youth court shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law upon which it relies for the disposition order.† If the disposition ordered by the youth court includes placing the child in the custody of a training school, an admission packet shall be prepared for the child that contains the following information:

††††††††† (a)† The child's current medical history, including medications and diagnosis;

††††††††† (b)† The child's mental health history;

††††††††† (c)† Copies of the child's cumulative record from the last school of record, including special education records, if reasonably available;

††††††††† (d)† Recommendation from the school of record based on areas of remediation needed;

††††††††† (e)† Disciplinary records from the school of record; and

††††††††† (f)† Records of disciplinary actions outside of the school setting, if reasonably available.

†††† Only individuals who are permitted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) shall have access to a child's medical records which are contained in an admission packet.† The youth court shall provide the admission packet to the training school at or before the childís arrival at the training school.† The admittance of any child to a training school shall take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on designated admission days.

†††† (9)† When a child in the jurisdiction of the Youth Court is committed to the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services and is believed to be in need of treatment for a mental or emotional disability or infirmity, the Department of Human Services shall file an affidavit alleging that the child is in need of mental health services with the Youth Court.† The Youth Court shall refer the child to the appropriate community mental health center for evaluation pursuant to Section 41-21-67.† If said pre-screening evaluation recommends residential care, the Youth Court shall proceed with civil commitment pursuant to Sections 41-21-61 et seq., 43-21-315 and 43-21-611, and the Department of Mental Health, once commitment is ordered, shall provide appropriate care, treatment and services for at least as many adolescents as were provided services in fiscal year 2004 in its facilities.

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†††† SECTION 2.† This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.