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Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

Indiana Court Officials Say Mentally Ill Kids Treated like Criminals

May 29, 2012
MARTINSVILLE - Indiana is treating its mentally ill children like criminals, locking them up in juvenile detention centers instead of providing the care they need, court officials say. Although a shortage of providers and a confusing maze of state agencies are issues, critics largely blame the Indiana Department of Child Services, which they say rarely uses its power to provide mental health treatment for youths deemed a danger to themselves or others, The Times of Munster and The Indianapolis Star report. The kids often end up in the juvenile justice system. "It would be nice if parents could access mental health services, short of their children being wards of the court," Judge Loretta Rush, who handles juvenile cases in Tippecanoe County, told The Times. Morgan County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline was fed up with the agency's repeated denial of requests for treatment for children he believed were mentally ill, so he filed a legal motion to compel it to help a girl who repeatedly banged her head against a car in a fit of rage. A court order issued last week in Martinsville ruled in DCS' favor but questioned whether the agency is doing its job.