Vermont Bar Journal
Winter 2008 - #12.
Vermont Enacts Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform: An Interview with Hon.Amy Davenport
The Vermont Bar Journal #176, Volume 34, No. 4 WINTER 2008
Vermont Enacts Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform: An Interview with Hon.Amy Davenportby Justice Marilyn SkoglundThe newly enacted Vermont Juvenile Judicial Proceedings Act (JJPA) became effective on January 1, 2009. The law comprehensively reforms Vermont's juvenile statutes for the first time in forty years. Vermont's code, first enacted in 1967, has been amended frequently in bits and pieces and was sorely in need of a complete rewrite. The JJPA is the culmination of two and a half years of intense work.
In 2006, the legislature created a statutory revision committee comprised of the key players in Vermont's juvenile court system. Over the course of eighteen months, the committee debated every aspect of policy and procedure. The committee developed a proposed bill, which was introduced in both the House and Senate in January 2008. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees and the House Human Services Committee worked on the legislation throughout the session and the bill passed in May.
JUSTICE SKOGLUND: I hear the revision committee dissected the entire statute and went through it line by line. What are some of the significant changes?
JUDGE DAVENPORT: The JJPA separates child welfare and delinquency proceedings while incorporating many of the best practices for both types of cases that have been recognized by organizations, such as the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, as being critical to achieving good outcomes for children.
Some of the major improvements enacted through this legislation include: early identification of absent fathers; early identification of kin willing to take custody of children; elimination of historical causes of delay; a custody preference for non-custodial parents and kin early in the process; protective orders with teeth; a presumption in favor of parent-child contact and authorization for the court to order sibling contact; a citation system for delinquency cases; incorporation of balanced and restorative justice principles; a new youthful offender process; court reviews for children in custody sixty days after disposition; a more user friendly format, and a logical...