Protecting Indiana’s Juveniles: Limiting Pre-Trial Placements For Juvenile Arrestees

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Prior to 2021, Indiana did not prohibit the placement of juvenile arrestees in adult jails before trial proceedings. A juvenile arrestee may have been held with adult offenders, exposing them to adult jail conditions which may have long-lasting impacts on the juvenile. In response to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2018, Indiana added a new statute addressing pre-trial detention of juvenile arrestees that became effective July 1, 2021.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

Originally passed in 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act sets forth standards states must adhere to in order to receive certain federal funding. Reaffirmed in 2018, the JJDPA, among other requirements, prohibits states from holding juvenile arrestees in adult facilities or facilities where the juvenile arrestee can hear or see adult inmates, except for under limited circumstances. The JJDPA imposes this ban even if the juvenile is charged as an adult.

Before new additions to the Indiana code during the 2021 Legislative Session, Indiana did not adhere to the requirements of the JJDPA. The addition of Indiana Code section 31-30-3-12, addressed the issue of juvenile arrestee placements and brought Indiana into compliance with the JJDPA.

Indiana Code section 31-30-3-12

Effective July 1, 2021, Indiana Code section 31-30-3-12 prohibits juvenile arrestees from being held in adult facilities or any facilities that would allow the juvenile arrestee to hear or see adult inmates. A juvenile arrestee is a person under 18, charged as an adult, who is awaiting proceedings. Under this section, juvenile arrestees may not have any physical, visual, or verbal contact with adult inmates in their placement. The court may, after a hearing, find that it is best for the juvenile to be held in an adult facility. In making this decision, the court shall consider:

  • the juvenile arrestee’s age
  • the juvenile arrestee’s physical and mental maturity
  • the juvenile arrestee’s mental state, including whether they are a risk of harm to themselves or others
  • the nature and circumstances surrounding the alleged offense
  • prior history of any delinquent or criminal acts
  • the ability of the adult and juvenile facilities to meet the juvenile arrestee’s needs and protect the safety of the public and the safety other detained juveniles
  • any other factors relevant to the determination.

Under this section, even if the court finds that the juvenile should be placed in an adult facility, the placement may only be allowed for 180 days unless the juvenile waives the 180-day limit, or the court finds good cause to extend the placement. The court may only extend placements for periods of 60 days at a time. If a juvenile arrestee is placed in an adult facility, the court must hold a hearing at least every 30 days to review whether the placement is still proper.

The addition of Indiana Code section 31-30-3-12 provides greater protections for Indiana’s juveniles by requiring they be held in appropriate facilities. By removing adult facilities as placements for juvenile arrestees and requiring a court to regularly affirm that an adult facility is the proper placement for a juvenile arrestee, Indiana is ensuring juveniles are held in safer and more appropriate facilities as they await proceedings. Juvenile inmates are distinctly different from adult inmates and the Indiana Code now properly treats them as such.

If you or someone you know is facing charges as a juvenile, contact the experienced attorneys at Banks and Brower anytime at 317-870-0019 or by emailing at