I hate to keep exposing my ignorance, but do all juvenile dispositions need to follow the Progressive Sanctions Model (assuming no deviation up or down)? Our probation office does not seem to base their recommendations on the Model, but I have had attorneys raise the failure to comport with the Model as a reason to reject a recommendation. I have looked at the annotations in Sampson and Tindall's Family Code, and I have read Prof. Dawson's Juvenile Law book, but I am still clueless about whether the model is mandatory to follow (or at least mandatory with the understanding that you can deviate with a good reason).
They are guidelines but my experience is that most probation departments believe that their state funding is tied to following them or if deviating providing adequte explination of the deviation. I complain because my department all but insists on following them all the time.
Our department pays little to no attention to them. My understanding is that they are simply a suggestion. I have not found them to be the slightest bit helpful.
Adoption of progressive sanctions model (previously, it was called "guidelines") is voluntary. See Tex. Fam. Code sec. 53.013 & 59.001. Even if adopted, a juvenile may not challenge the application (or nonapplication) of the sanctions on direct appeal or through a writ. See Tex. Fam. Code sec. 59.014. But see A.S., 954 S.W.2d 855 (Tex. App. El Paso 1997) (reversing a progressive sanction on sufficiency grounds).
While originally a department had to submit a written explanation of any deviation, that requirement has since been repealed.
By the way, TDCAA has just published a book on juvenile law, written by Chris Hubner. Get a copy.
Williamson County, Texas
Our JPOs have absolutely no problem deviating downward, usually on the rather nonspecific "gee, he's not really a bad kid" grounds. On the other hand, they're extremely resistant to deviating upward, and their math on the sanction level for repeat offenders defies any logical explaination. In particular, regardless of how heinous the offense, I have never known our JJC to go straight to a level 5 on a first degree felony offender with no priors. We've managed to disagree and still get along by my acknowledging that their primary interest is in rehabilitation, whereas I give equal weight to the protection of society.
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