In Arizona, the Juvenile Court will not allow a juvenile delinquency case to go to trial if the child is not competent. What this means is that the child accused of the crime does not have the capability to assist in his representation. Often this is due to some cognitive disability. However, the Juvenile Court does not just dismiss a case if a child is not considered competent. Instead the child is usually placed in a program to see if they can be educated to a point where they can go to trial. Unfortunately, some children are stuck in juvenile detention centers while they go through this restoration process.
Samantha Michaels’ article highlights how long a child can be stuck just waiting in the system. While I haven’t seen kids detained as long as some of these children, I have seen them detained waiting in the restoration for quite some time. When a child is detained pending restoration it is the duty of their attorney and the other professionals to be vigilant in trying to find alternative placement and to regularly remind the court of the child’s predicament.