what is a JCA?
A Juvenile Correction Agent (JCA) is an employee of the South Dakota Department of Corrections (DOC), Juvenile Division. There are JCA's located in eleven offices statewide. When a juvenile is committed to the DOC, the Secretary of Corrections becomes that juvenile’s legal guardian according to South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 26-7A-92. As the Secretary's representative, the JCA serves as a single point of case management for the juvenile.
Juvenile offenders enter the DOC through the state's judicial system. A circuit court judge has the authority to commit a juvenile to the Department of Corrections. The court may only commit a child to the DOC if the judge finds that:
- no viable alternative exists;
- the DOC is the least restrictive alternative;
- the child is currently adjudicated delinquent for an offense eligible for transfer proceedings pursuant to SDCL 26-11-3.1; or
- the child is currently adjudicated delinquent for a crime of violence pursuant to subdivision SDCL 22-1-2 (9), sex offense pursuant to SDCL 22-24B-1, felony registry offense from evidence presented at the dispositional hearing or from the pre-dispositional report that the youth presents a significant risk of physical harm to another person.
Any finding made pursuant to that section shall be made in a written decree. The DOC then has the responsibility to provide the necessary custody, care and supervision of the juvenile through the commitment period.
At the time of commitment, the JCA is assigned. The JCA works with the juvenile, their family, the courts and other service providers to assess the areas of concern and needs of the youth. This information is utilized to make treatment, case planning and release decisions.
As a case manager, the JCA has the responsibility of remaining in contact with the juvenile, their families, and any service providers working with the youth and family. When youth are placed in an out-of-home facility, the JCA's participate in monthly treatment team meetings to include the youth, placement staff, and the family, whenever possible. The JCA reviews the youth's progress on treatment plan goals and evaluates the effectiveness of the services based on results of the risk/needs assessment. This is accomplished utilizing the staffing process as well as monthly contact with the youth and his/her family. That contact may be telephonic, written or in-person. The JCA makes a written recommendation if they support reauthorization of services or if referral to a less restrictive treatment alternative or home will be pursued.
All youth who score Moderate, High or Very High on the Youth Level of Service Case Managment Inventory 2.0 are referred to the Department of Social Services Division of Behavioral Health to determine eligible community based services.