Juvenile justice systems in every state treat youth offenders much differently from adults except regarding serious violent crimes. The DeSoto County Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over cases involving children under 18 years old who are delinquent, neglected, abused or in need of supervision.
Because the goal of Mississippi Youth Courts is to rehabilitate rather than punish, authorities limit the cases in which they take children into custody.
Situations when custody is necessary
According to the Mississippi Code, a judge may determine that custody is necessary when no reasonable alternatives are available and one of the following is true:
- The child is in danger
- The child is a danger to others
- Authorities believe it is the only way to make sure the child shows up at a scheduled court hearing
- The child does not have a parent, guardian or custodian to take care of and supervise him or her
Factors for determining custody is necessary
In determining whether there are any reasonable alternatives to custody, the court should consider the child’s family situation, relationships and home conditions. The court must be able to provide oversight for the child if he or she stays with the parent or relative in question.
The potential for harm is another important factor. A child with a history of harming others or acting in a way that puts others in danger may need to be in custody. If the current alleged offense is of a violent nature, this may also lead the judge to order the child in custody.
Other factors include whether the child has a prior record, how great the risk is that the child will not appear at a court date, whether the child has another pending petition and whether the child has violated a court order.