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Making Sure There's Probable Cause In Youth Arrests

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Hamilton County
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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.