Juvenile judge pleads with police to stop arresting children under 13 years old

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Just at the age to begin school and already some kids have a record in the juvenile justice system. But Marion County Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores says juvenile detention isn't always the answer.

She's asking police to find another way to deal with the cities youngest offenders.
In a letter Judge Moores says, "we discovered that children as young as 5 and 6, and frequently children ages 9 and 10 were being arrested and transported to the detention center. There is almost no set of circumstances under which these children would be detained."

Judge Moores says children under 12 almost never meet the criteria that warrants a trip to the juvenile detention center. Instead she says "While officers are welcome to file delinquency charges against any youth they have probable cause to believe has violated a law, for children 12 of age and under, those charges should be paperwork referrals through the prosecutor's officer and not outright arrests."

IMPD Chief Rick Hite has gotten word of her request.

"We're going to follow up to make sure we got clarity on that mission and that directive," said Chief Hite.

Judge Moores also says kids 13 and older arrested solely for public intoxication or minor in possession should be released to a parent or child services. The chief says that could be a problem.

"Maybe some misunderstandings in terms of the outcomes of that if we in fact can't take young people to a facility who's intoxicated then where are we going to take them?"

City County Councilman Leroy Robinson says it's time to make sure our youth don't end up in these situations in the first place.

"We tend to focus on incarceration. Building justice centers for billions of dollars. The money should go on the front end. Funding community centers. Funding youth programs," said Councilman Robinson.

Chief Hite says further conversations are needed about Judge Moores request.

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