On October 20, 2016 the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced the availability of the final Model Indian Juvenile Code. Together, with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the Bureau has updated the 1988 Model Indian Juvenile Code.
The updated Code is intended as a comprehensive and flexible tool to assist Tribes in creating or revising their juvenile codes. It provides alternatives to standard juvenile delinquency, truancy, and child-in-need services. It reflects a core commitment to providing Tribes with examples of juvenile statutes designed to assure the fundamental rights of children and their parents, guardians and custodians, and a focus on allowing the opportunity for restorative diversion at each decision point in the juvenile process.
The updated Code focuses on three areas: Juvenile Delinquency, Truancy and At-Risk Youth. Based on consultation with tribal governments, the Code also focuses on other areas:
- The ability to divert out of formal process at each decision point;
- Embedding the right to counsel for juveniles in delinquency/truancy;
- Restricting the use of detention;
- Commentary on choices made in the Code and discussion of options for implementation, including diversion examples;
- Distinguishing between delinquent acts and need for services (for delinquent acts, focus on supervision, treatment and rehabilitation);
- Ensuring the rights of parties; and
- The coordination of services.