2010 Tennessee Code
Title 37 - Juveniles
Chapter 1 - Juvenile Courts and Proceedings
Part 1 - General Provisions
37-1-137 - Commitment of delinquent children to the department of children's services.

37-1-137. Commitment of delinquent children to the department of children's services.

(a)  (1)  (A)  An order of the juvenile court committing a delinquent child to the custody of the department of children's services shall be for an indefinite time.

          (B)  If a juvenile offender is tried and adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court for the offense of first degree murder, second degree murder, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, attempt to commit first degree murder, or violations of § 39-17-417(b), (i) or (j), or has been previously adjudicated delinquent in three (3) felony offenses arising out of separate criminal episodes at least one (1) of which has resulted in institutional commitment to the department of children's services, or is within six (6) months of the child's eighteenth birthday at the time of the adjudication of the child's delinquency, the commitment may be for a determinate period of time but in no event shall the length of the commitment be greater than the sentence for the adult convicted of the same crime, nor shall such commitment extend past the offender's nineteenth birthday. Commitment under this section shall not exceed the sentences provided for in title 40, chapter 35, and in no event shall a juvenile offender be sentenced to Range II or Range III.

     (2)  However, no child shall be committed to such department when the court deems it in the best interest of the child without a pre-commitment report including, but not limited to:

          (A)  Educational status;

          (B)  Family background information;

          (C)  Employment background;

          (D)  Physical examination and report; and

          (E)  Psychological report (if possible).

     (3)  Such report shall be prepared by the probation officer assigned to the juvenile to be committed.

     (4)  Notwithstanding subdivisions (a)(2) and (3), the information in a pre-commitment report shall be provided only when presently available and shall not be provided at an additional cost to the department.

     (5)  The department may place the child in a suitable state institution, foster home or group home, or the department may purchase services from any agency, public or private, that is authorized by law to receive or provide care or services for children.

     (6)  The commissioner, in consultation with the executive committee of the Tennessee council of juvenile and family court judges, shall promulgate rules and regulations relative to commitment criteria for the incarceration of juvenile offenders in facilities operated or managed by the department. All such rules and regulations shall be promulgated in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

(b)  The commissioner shall prescribe procedures whereby the child's treatment, rehabilitation and progress shall be reviewed quarterly and a recommendation for or against home placement or discharge shall be made to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee at least semiannually.

(c)  (1)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee, with the assent of the committing court, may make a home placement of a child under the continuing supervision of the department. Notification of a home placement of a child shall be made in writing to the committing court at least fifteen (15) days prior to the proposed date of such placement. Unless the committing court makes an objection in writing to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee or sets a hearing within the fifteen-day period with such hearing to be held at the earliest possible date, the court shall be considered to have assented to the home placement. The first thirty (30) days after the child's return home shall be a trial home pass with the department retaining legal custody of the child. If the child successfully completes the trial home pass, at the end of the thirty (30) day trial home pass the child shall automatically be placed on home placement supervision status, and the department's legal custody of the child shall terminate. If the committing court objects to the home placement, such objections shall be made in writing to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee setting forth the reasons for such objections. A valid ground for such objection shall include, but not be limited to, consideration of the nature of the offense committed by the juvenile. No juvenile shall be released on home placement if the committing court objects in the prescribed manner. Upon receiving the objection from the committing court, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall review the child's file and consult with the committing judge regarding the proposed placement of the child. If no agreement is reached between the department and the committing judge, then the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall request a hearing on the proposed placement by a three (3) judge panel to be appointed by the executive committee of the Tennessee council of juvenile and family court judges. Such three (3) judge panel shall not include the committing judge. The panel will hear and resolve the controversy within thirty (30) days of receipt of the commissioner's or the commissioner's designee's request for a hearing by the executive secretary of the council and the decision of the panel shall be final.

     (2)  In the event the juvenile offender is a person described in subdivision (a)(1)(B) and is given a determinate commitment, and the commissioner or the commissioner's designee is of the opinion that the juvenile offender is a fit subject for home placement, the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall request a hearing before the judge of the juvenile court in which the original commitment occurred. The request shall state the reasons for recommending the placement and shall make specific recommendations as to where the child will be placed. A copy of the request for a hearing shall be supplied to the district attorney general. If, on review of the record, the court is of the opinion that the request is well taken and the district attorney general has no objection, the judge may order the placement without a hearing. Otherwise, the court shall schedule a hearing within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the request for hearing. At the hearing, the department, the juvenile offender, and the state shall be given an opportunity to be heard in support of or in opposition to the proposed placement and all of the parties may subpoena witnesses to testify on any issue raised by the proposed placement. The court may make such orders pertaining to the continued commitment or home placement as the court determines are justified under the proof produced at the hearing. The court's decision shall be appealable under the provisions of § 37-1-302.

(d)  If the designee of the department supervising a delinquent child on home placement has reasonable cause to believe that such child has violated the conditions of home placement in an important respect, the designee may file a petition alleging a violation of home placement. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the court may require that the child be placed in detention pending adjudication of the petition. The department is prohibited from taking the child into custody until the court finds that the child has violated conditions of the home placement and the court terminates the home placement. Nothing herein shall prevent the transfer of a juvenile under § 37-1-134.

(e)  The juvenile court that committed the delinquent child to the department retains jurisdiction to determine allegations of violation of home placement. Such court shall schedule a hearing within seven (7) days of the time the child is placed in detention and cause written notice to be served on the child, the child's parent(s), guardian or other custodian, and the department's designee a reasonable time before the hearing. The written notice shall contain a copy of the petition and any other written report or statement detailing the violation or violations as well as the time, place and purpose of the hearing. At the hearing, the court shall allow the child to be heard in person and to present witnesses or documentary evidence. The child shall also have the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.

(f)  If the court finds that no violation has occurred, the child shall be allowed to resume the former conditions of home placement. If the court finds that:

     (1)  A violation occurred; and

     (2)  The violation was serious enough to justify termination, it shall order that the child be re-committed to the department. Such order shall contain the reasons relied on for terminating the home placement. Upon such termination, the child may be placed as the commissioner or the commissioner's designee may direct. The child may appeal the disposition of the court as provided in § 37-1-159.

(g)  (1)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee may discharge a child placed in the custody of the department and thereby terminate the custody, control and supervision of the child. Notification of discharge of a child shall be made in writing to the committing court at least fifteen (15) days prior to the discharge. Unless the committing court makes an objection in writing to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee or sets a hearing within the fifteen-day period with such hearing to be held at the earliest possible date, the court shall be considered to have assented to the discharge.

     (2)  If the committing court objects to the discharge, such objections shall be made in writing to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee, setting forth the reasons for such objections. A valid ground for such objection shall include, but not be limited to, considerations of the nature of the offense committed by the juvenile. No juvenile shall be discharged if the committing court objects in the prescribed manner. If an objection is filed, then the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall review the discharge decision and within fifteen (15) days shall render a final decision on the discharge. If the decision is to discharge the juvenile notwithstanding the objections of the committing court, then the executive committee of the Tennessee council of juvenile and family court judges shall appoint a panel of three (3) juvenile or family court judges to review the commissioner's final decision. Such three (3) judge panel will hear and resolve, by a majority vote, the controversy within thirty (30) days of the filing of the commissioner's final decision. The committing judge shall not be a member of the three (3) judge panel. The determination of the three (3) judge panel shall be final.

     (3)  In the event the juvenile offender is a person described in subdivision (a)(1)(B) and is given a determinate commitment, and the commissioner or the commissioner's designee is of the opinion that the juvenile offender is a fit subject for discharge, the commisisoner or the commissioner's designee shall request a hearing before the judge of the juvenile court in which the original commitment occurred. The request shall state the reasons for recommending the discharge and shall make specific recommendations as to where the child will be placed. A copy of the request for a hearing shall be supplied to the district attorney general. If, on review of the record, the court is of the opinion that the request is well taken and the district attorney has no objection, the judge may order the placement without a hearing. Otherwise, the court shall schedule a hearing within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the request for hearing. At the hearing, the department, the juvenile offender and the state shall be given an opportunity to be heard in support of or in opposition to the proposed discharge and all of the parties may subpoena witnesses to testify on any issue raised by the proposed discharge. The court may make such orders pertaining to the continued commitment or discharge as the court determines are justified under the proof produced at the hearing. The court's decision shall be appealable under the provisions of § 37-1-302.

(h)  (1)  Any juvenile offender who is given a determinate commitment shall be eligible to receive time credits toward the determinate sentence imposed. Such time credits shall be awarded for good institutional behavior or satisfactory performance, or both, within institutional programs. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, awarded time credits shall operate to reduce the time a juvenile offender must serve in the department on the determinate sentence.

     (2)  Each juvenile offender who exhibits good institutional behavior or exhibits satisfactory performance, or both, within a program may be awarded time credits toward the sentence imposed, varying between one (1) day and sixteen (16) days for each month served, with not more than eight (8) days for each month served for good institutional behavior and not more than eight (8) days for each month served for satisfactory program performance in accordance with criteria established by the department. No juvenile offender shall have the right to any such time credits nor shall any juvenile offender have the right to participate in any particular program and may be transferred from one (1) program to another without cause.

     (3)  Such sentence credits shall not be earned or credited automatically, but rather shall be awarded on a monthly basis to a juvenile offender at the discretion of the responsible superintendent in accordance with the criteria established by the department, and only after receipt by the superintendent of written documentation evidencing the juvenile offender's good institutional behavior or satisfactory program performance, or both.

     (4)  Such sentence credits may not be awarded for a period of less than one (1) calendar month or for any month in which a juvenile offender commits a major violation of which such juvenile offender is found guilty. No sentence credits for good institutional behavior may be awarded for any month in which a juvenile offender commits any disciplinary violation of which such juvenile offender is found guilty.

     (5)  A juvenile offender may be deprived of those sentence credits previously awarded pursuant to this subsection (h) only for the commission of any major infraction designated by the department as a major violation, or refusal to participate in a program.

     (6)  All determinately sentenced juvenile offenders, including those juveniles who are currently serving their sentences, are eligible for the sentence reduction credits authorized by this subsection (h). However, sentence reduction credits authorized by this subsection (h) may be awarded only for conduct or performance, or both, from and after July 1, 1987.

[Acts 1970, ch. 600, § 37; impl. am. Acts 1971, ch. 76, § 1; 1972, ch. 786, §§ 1, 2; 1975, ch. 326, § 3; 1976, ch. 745, §§ 3, 4, 5; 1977, ch. 171, §§ 1, 2; 1979, ch. 297, § 1; 1980, ch. 907, § 1; T.C.A., § 37-237; Acts 1985, ch. 441, §§ 3-5; 1987, ch. 56, § 1; 1988, ch. 979, §§ 6, 7; 1989, ch. 278, § 44; 1990, ch. 958, §§ 2-4; 1990, ch. 982, § 3; 1993, ch. 276, § 3; 1996, ch. 1079, §§ 73, 96-98, 100-102; 2005, ch. 265, § 3.]  

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