August 29, 2018
CLAYTON, MO – August 29, 2018 – The St. Louis County Family Court has achieved full compliance with all but one recommendation – staff training – contained in a 2016 agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a D.O.J. audit released last week.
Retired Pennsylvania Judge Arthur E. Grim, one of two independent auditors monitoring the Court’s progress, praised Court staff for their ongoing commitment to excellence. Since the last audit in March, the Court has continued to improve its performance in ensuring that juveniles receive due process and adequate legal representation, data tracking and analysis, and reducing the number of juveniles held in the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center.
“Our commitment to safeguarding the constitutional rights and best interests of all juveniles in St. Louis County is unwavering,” said Ben Burkemper, Family Court Administrator. “The Court has worked diligently to meet all the goals of the D.O.J. agreement.”
During a visit here in June, Judge Grim interviewed Family Court judges, staff members, juvenile officers and court-appointed lawyers. In addition, he observed informal hearings and met with parents of court-involved youth.
He praised the Court for a “superb” and well-attended presentation June 5 in Ferguson, updating the community on the work of the Family Court, and urged the Court to continue the public dialogue. Judge Grim noted that the majority of parents he interviewed were pleased with their experience while their children were under supervision. The audit again commended the Court for hiring two data analysts, whose expertise dramatically improves the its ability to analyze factors influencing referrals to juvenile court.
The average daily number of juveniles in secure detention in St. Louis County has dropped sharply in the past year, due in part to the Court’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). JDAI helps identify resources to help juveniles remain with their families, schools and communities and stay out of the justice system.
Earlier this month, the Family Court hosted its third JDAI community meeting, attended by more than 40 regional stakeholders including representatives from St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s office, county school districts, law enforcement and faith-based and advocacy organizations.
A link to the full August 22, 2018 Department of Justice report can be found here:
For more information contact:
Christine Bertelson, Director of Strategic Communications
St. Louis County Circuit Court
105 South Central Avenue
Clayton, MO 63105
314-615-2643 or 314-202-3400
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