Through the years
Changes have been more than just physical at the Pima County Juvenile Court Center. With a staff of 22 when the center was established in 1967, the Court has grown to over 600 employees in 2005.
During the early 1970s, the Court’s emphasis was on child’s diversion from the court system and the separation of incarcerated juveniles from adults. Probation was voluntary, as a means of prevention, and no records were kept
From the late-70s to the early 80s, a therapeutic model took shape. Early childhood development and the importance of working with families were introduced. Many residential treatment programs were established with unlimited funds for children in need of services. The federal government deinstitutionalizes status offenders, forbidding the court to take runaways, truants and curfew violators into custody. Shelters organized to take status offenders in the community. Mobile Diversion was launched with Probation Officers responding to homes to resolve incorrigible/family disturbances. This service was offered daily until midnight.
The 1980s brought the “get tough” movement. Residential treatment centers were closing and juvenile crime was escalating. The public did not know much about the Juvenile Court, because it was a closed court. Wide spread criticism from law enforcement and the public started the “revolving door” myth. Lawmakers responded with a “law & order” solution. Funding for treatment was slashed and the transfer of juveniles to the adult system became accepted practice. Pima County started the JIPS program as an alternative to commitment to the Department of Juvenile Corrections. Alternative schools were established in Pima County as alternatives to children who were not in mainstream schools. The role of the Probation Officer was redefined from “social-worker-therapist” to “officer of the court” insuring that sanctions were carried out.
In the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, it became apparent the “get tough” movement had failed. Rising crime, both in frequency and severity, among juveniles pushed the pendulum toward a “Balanced Approach”: community protection, individual accountability, and competency development/treatment. Probation Officers were ordered to contact victims, they went back into the schools, fees were established for accountability, resources such as the Center for Juvenile Alternatives renewed the use of prevention efforts. The Arizona Supreme Court issued an administrative order in 1995 allowing juvenile records and delinquency hearing to be open for public inspection. For the first time in its 88-year existence, the Juvenile Court was subjected to public scrutiny. In 1996, the passage of the voter approved Proposition 102 made the transfer of certain crimes mandatory for juveniles 15-years and older.
Prevention is the focus again. Everything from early intervention to revamping the child welfare system is impacting the lives of the children we serve and increasing their chances of becoming productive and successful adults.