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Making Sure There's Probable Cause In Youth Arrests

Hamilton County
2020 Auburn Ave. is where minors are taken when arrested and detained.

New Hamilton County Juvenile Court policies are in place after the Children's Law Center and the County settled a 2014 lawsuit filed by the Covington non-profit legal service.

At that time, lead attorney Rickell Howard said, the county was routinely arresting and detaining youths without probable cause. Probable cause is a judicial finding that a crime has been committed, and the person cited has probably committed the crime.

"Without a finding of probable cause, children could be sent to jail on the whim of a teacher or a police officer, or even by a simple mistake or misunderstanding, and no one - including the judge who is assigned to do so - would take a second look at the cause until hours, days, or even weeks later," according to Kim Tandy, executive director of the Children's Law Center.

The new policies include:

  • Updated detention center policies related to complaint and warrant processing.
  • Revised training for intake clerks.
  • Ccreation of a duty magistrate on call 24 hours a day.
  • Collaboration with local police departments.

Both sides are still discussing what can be done about racial disparities and the large number of youth arrests in Hamilton County.