On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cape May County, Docket No. FJ-05-694-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and C.L. Miniman.
C.V., a juvenile, appeals from a final adjudication of delinquency entered on April 3, 2007, and from that portion of an order entered on May 7, 2007, denying her request for an additional credit of 144 days for time spent in two residential treatment facilities. Because C.V. has not alleged any error in the adjudication of delinquency, we address only the issue of her entitlement to the requested credit and affirm.
C.V., who was born on June 27, 1991, has an extensive juvenile record, which began in June 2004. She pled guilty to simple assault and fighting on May 11, 2005, when she was fourteen years old; she was placed on reporting probation for one year. At that time, she lived with her grandmother. On August 3, C.V. pled guilty to violating probation by absenting her home without permission for twenty-four hours, for violating curfew, and for disobeying household rules; she was referred to the Family Crisis Intervention Unit for possible shelter placement. C.V. was again charged with violating probation by disobeying household rules and on December 13 the Family Part judge remanded her to a shelter pending further review. She ran away from the shelter. Subsequently, C.V. was entered into the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) and monitored with an electronic ankle bracelet.
On January 12, 2006, C.V. was charged with acts constituting aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, and on January 17 pled guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon. At that time, the judge terminated her informal probation and placed her on formal reporting probation. The judge required ISP to provide a companion for C.V. and family therapy, and imposed various fines and penalties. On March 21, C.V. pled guilty to a violation of probation based on her failure to pay the fines and penalties; the judge imposed a 6:00 p.m. curfew, ISP for thirty days, and continued probation. Then on March 28, C.V. pled guilty to further probationary violations based on multiple curfew violations, a failure to attend school, and failure to pay fines and penalties; the judge continued her on ISP pending disposition of the guilty plea. The judge authorized probation to contact juvenile intake directly and arranged for her to go into detention if she violated her probation before the dispositional hearing the following week. C.V. violated her curfew and alcohol was found in her bedroom, but she was not taken to detention because she had just broken her hand rollerblading. On April 4, after reviewing the aggravating and mitigating factors, the judge sentenced her to sixty days in the Bridgeton Detention Facility and ordered Youth Case Management and the Division of Children's Behavioral Health to begin a search for an out-of-home placement. This proved to be only the beginning of C.V.'s 2006 involvement with juvenile justice.
As of August 1, 2006, C.V. had been accepted into a program called Youth Consultation Services (YCS), a one-year residential treatment center for girls in Atlantic City. With the agreement of the shelter from which she had previously run away, the judge remanded her to the shelter pending placement at the YCS with a review scheduled for August 15. A violation of probation was filed on August 4 because C.V. absconded from the shelter; C.V. pled guilty on August 15. The judge extended her probation to August 15, 2007, and as a condition required successful enrollment in, cooperation with, and completion of the YCS program. Her enrollment in the YCS was to begin on August 21, 2006. The judge also imposed a nine-month suspended sentence in the State Training School for Girls.
On September 5, 2006, another violation of probation was filed against C.V., who had been dismissed from the YCS program the day before. She was present in court and had self-inflicted cuts on her arm. The judge ordered YCS to provide records reflecting why C.V. had been dismissed from the program and directed Youth Case Management to search for alternative placements. He sent C.V. to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital (now Cape Regional Medical Center) for a mental-health screening, and, barring psychiatric hospitalization, remanded her to the Bridgeton Detention Facility. The violation of probation was heard on September 12. By then, YCS had indicated that they would take C.V. back with a warning that any further misconduct would result in an immediate transport to Bridgeton. C.V. pled guilty to the violation of probation and disposition was postponed pending a predisposition report or probation summary.
By October 3, 2006, when the matter was before the judge for a dispositional hearing, YCS had changed its mind about accepting C.V. back into its program. Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital had completed C.V.'s psychiatric evaluation and had placed her on Prozac. The judge also had a report from the Alternative Disposition Committee, which recommended that C.V. be given an opportunity for a different residential placement, although there were no available beds. The State argued that C.V. had an altercation with other girls at YCS and another with a pregnant staff member, who had filed charges against her in Atlantic County, and urged that the suspended sentence be imposed. C.V. had now turned fifteen and had been in juvenile justice for two years. The judge determined that it was appropriate to give C.V. another opportunity. He increased the suspended sentence to twelve months, which was conditioned on compliance with probation and cooperating with the residential placement. C.V. was retained in detention pending placement. The judge also placed C.V. in the custody of the Division of Youth and Family Services because C.V.'s grandmother was unable to control her.
C.V. was accepted into a residential placement at Vision Quest, but on February 6, 2007, the judge reviewed a report from Vision Quest stating that, although it was willing to continue to work with her, it wanted conditions imposed. Specifically, Vision Quest stated that running away would no longer be tolerated, C.V. was to keep her hands to herself, and that she was to stop her self-mutilating behaviors, which had resulted in hospitalization. Probation reported that there was a simple assault charge pending involving a staff member. The judge warned C.V. that any further infractions could well result in imposition of the suspended sentence. It did not take long for C.V. to trigger that result.
On March 6, 2007, C.V. appeared and pled guilty to her fifth violation of probation based on her discharge from the Vision Quest program as "unsuccessful." There were also two assault charges pending out of New Lisbon for her behavior at Vision Quest. Her attorney requested that disposition abide a predisposition report and a discharge summary from Kennedy Hospital, where C.V. had twice been treated while she as at Vision Quest. Youth Case Management indicated that it was willing to make a referral to a care management organization, but recommended that C.V. remain in a secure setting pending the referral. The State objected to any further placements. The judge scheduled disposition for March 27 and made a referral to the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC). The judge refused to consider any further placements and requested that Probation secure the Kennedy Hospital discharge summaries and prepare a probation summary.
C.V. returned to court on April 3, 2007. By then, JJC had reported that a Fields program was not appropriate because of C.V.'s mental health needs. C.V. sought a credit of 276 days against her suspended one-year sentence for the 132 days she spent in detention and the 144 days she spent at YCS and Vision Quest, arguing that both were "secure facilities." The State objected to the latter credit. The judge carefully considered the aggravating and mitigating factors and C.V.'s history during her fifteen days at YCS: continual assaults on peers and staff, intimidation, verbal threats towards residential staff and her peers, opposition and defiance to program rules, and consistent runaway behaviors ranging from six to twelve hours at a time culminating in an assault on a staff member that required emergency medical treatment. As to Vision Quest, she absconded at least five times, ...