STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF J.J. A-2357-11T2
This case required us to determine whether procedural due process rights must be accorded to an adjudicated juvenile prior to transfer from a juvenile facility operated by the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) to an adult correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections (DOC) pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 52:17B-175(e). That statute permits such transfers of a juvenile "who has reached the age of 16 during confinement and whose continued presence in the juvenile facility threatens the public safety, the safety of juvenile offenders, or the ability of the commission to operate the program in the manner intended." The State takes the position that no due process rights of any kind, including notice and an opportunity to be heard, are required. We disagreed and reversed.
We concluded that the rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile justice system combined with the importance of the decision in terms of the availability of rehabilitative services to juveniles at issue require due process at least as extensive as that required for prison discipline. See Avant v. Clifford, 67 N.J. 496, 525 (1975). At a minimum, before a juvenile can be transferred to custody of the DOC, there must be written notice of the proposed transfer and the supporting factual basis, an impartial decision maker, an opportunity to be heard and to present opposition, some form of representation, and written findings of fact supporting a decision to proceed with the transfer. 08-28-12