Everyone knows that one of the primary roles of County government is to provide justice services. This includes, law enforcement, the jail, prosecutors, assigned council (public defenders) and the courts. What most people don’t think of in this system is juvenile courts. The County is responsible for providing justice services for our youth throughout all of Pierce County including the cities. The people in Pierce County should be especially proud of our Juvenile Court. They are considered a leader in juvenile justice and have been on the forefront of programs that make a difference to youth and their families.
Like the adult courts, Juvenile Court, known locally as Remann Hall, has both a criminal unit and civil unit. A number of years ago, the local leaders in juvenile justice determined that incarceration for crimes was not making an impact on juvenile crime or providing any help to youth or their families. Research has shown that youth benefitted from community based and trauma informed services that creates a Positive Youth Justice model. They implemented evidence based practices such as Functional Family Therapy, a program that works with both the youth and his or her family providing direct services and case management. The result from this program implementation… Remann Hall has reduced the average daily population in detention by 85% while also decreasing the number of serious crimes by 81%. This was a change in philosophy. The belief was that a youth that committed a crime had to be punished. Now the belief is that youth who come into contact with the justice system need much more than being incarcerated but that young people in trouble with the law need guidance, structure, education, and support to realize their full potential.
Most of the work at Remann Hall now is in its civil court. Civil work involves kids that have not committed crimes. A large part of their work is now in dependency cases. They work with children who have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services to find homes for them often in the foster care system. Last year Pierce County had the highest number of children entering foster care in Washington State. Of the 1700 kids in foster care, nearly half are under the age of 5. The staff at Remann Hall work with and in the community to build partnerships and collaborations and secure resources for this vulnerable population. The goal is to ensure they have successful futures.
Remann Hall has made a difference. We are fortunate to have an agency that is innovative and forward thinking, believes in helping our families when they are in crisis, creates community partnerships, and who provides opportunity and hope to our youth.