Ashley Donovan
April 5, 2007
Advanced Legal Research

MASSACHUSETTS CHINS LAWS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BACKGROUND  
STATUTES   2
  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119 § 21(2006). 2
  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119 §§ 39E-J (2006). 2
  Mass. Code Regs. 4.60-4.67 (2005). 3
SELECTIVE CASE LAW   3
  In re Angela, 833 N.E.2d 575, 584 (Mass. 2005). 3
  Commonwealth v. Florence F., 709 N.E.2d 418 (Mass. 1999). 3
  In re Gail 629 N.E.2d 1308 (Mass. 1994). 3
  Oscar F. v. County of Worcester, 587 N.E.2d 208 (Mass.1992). 4
  Matter of Vincent, 562 N.E.2d 465 (Mass. 1990). 4
SECONDARY SOURCES   4
BOOKS   4
  44A Mass. Prac. Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Jurisdiction § 4 (2006). 4
  R. Marc Kantrowitz, Amy M. Karp, & Stephen M. Limon, Massachusetts Juvenile Delinquency & Child Welfare Law Sourcebook (MCLE, Inc. 2006). 4
  Jay Blitzman et al., Massachusetts Juvenile Court Bench Book (MCLE, Inc. 2006). 4
  CHINS, The Step-Child of the Juvenile Justice System (Suffolk Advance Legal Studies 2000). 4
  CHINS Cases in our Courts (MCLE Inc. 1992). 5
REPORTS/STUDIES   5
  Citizens for Juvenile Justice, A Report Card on CHINS in Massachusetts (Nov. 2000). 5
  Sandra Adams, In Jeopardy and at Risk : CHINS Cases in Massachusetts (1998). 5
  Supreme Judicial Court Commission on Juvenile Justice, Final Report (1994). 5
ARTICLES   5
  Boston Foundation, Community Safety Initiative 5
  Tamar Ezer, Delivery of Legal Services to Children in the Boston Area, 8 U. Cal. Davis J. of Juv. L & Policy 95 (2004). 5
  Alecia Humphrey, The Criminalization Of Survival Attempts: Locking Up Female Runaways and Other Status Offenders, 15 Hastings Women’s L.J.165 (2004). 6
  Joyce London Alexander, Aligning the Goals of Juvenile Justice with the Needs of Young Woman Offenders: A Proposed Praxis for Transformational Justice, 32 Suffolk U. L. Rev. (1999). 6
WEBSITES   6
  The Boston Foundation, Preventing Juvenile Crime: The CHINS Law (October 7, 2003) 6
  Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, Child in Need of Service Cases 6
  Suffolk Law School, Juvenile Justice Links 6

MASSACHUSETTS CHINS LAWS

BACKGROUND

The Juvenile Court in Massachusetts has jurisdiction over: (1) delinquency matters, (2) care and protection cases, and (3) “children in need of services” (CHINS) cases. CHINS cases allow judges to intervene in non-criminal behaviors of children that the legislature has determined is cause for concern, and can be indicative of future involvement in delinquency or adult criminal matters. The non-criminal behaviors the legislature has allowed the Juvenile Court to intervene in are: (1) truancy, or excessive absence from school; (2) runaways; (3) stubborn children, or those who persistently do not follow the orders of their parents; and (4) school offenders, or those who disobey the rules at school. Depending on the behavior in question a parent, police officer, or a school official in charge of attendance can file a CHINS petition. After a Juvenile Court judge adjudicates a child a CHINS the statutory frame work enumerates the dispositions available to the judge. A disposition cannot last more then six months, but a six month extension can be ordered after review by the court, which may include an evidentiary hearing. The following research guide will direct practitioners and those interested in researching CHINS in Massachusetts to pertinent statutes and case law dealing with CHINS cases; and secondary materials that will provide background information, forms, and commentary on the system.

STATUTES

Chapter 119 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides for the “Protection and Care of Children, and Proceedings Against Them.” This chapter includes the definition and for the administration of CHINS petitions.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119 § 21(2006).
This section defines CHINS as:

  a child below the age of seventeen who persistently runs away from the home of his parents or legal guardian, or persistently refuses to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of his parents or legal guardian, thereby resulting in said parent's or guardian's inability to adequately care for and protect said child, or a child between the ages of six and sixteen who persistently and willfully fails to attend school or persistently violates the lawful and reasonable regulations of his school.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119 §§ 39E-J (2006).
Chapter 119, sections 39E-J deals specifically with CHINS cases:

  (1) Section 39E assigns jurisdiction for CHINS cases to the Juvenile Court, provides who can file a CHINS petition, and outlines the procedure to begin a CHINS case;
(2) Section 39F outlines the right to counsel, the determination of indigency, and the assessment of costs for court appointed counsel;
(3) Section 39G regulates the right to a hearing, enumerates the dispositions available to the judge, and limits the duration of a disposition;
(4) Section 39H outlines the only scenario where a child subject to a CHINS petition may be arrested, and the procedure the police officer must take when effectuating the arrest;
(5) Section 39I lays out the right and procedure to appeal a CHINS adjudication, whether it be in front of a jury or in front of a judge; and
(6) Section 39J designates the payor for the services provided to children who are adjudicated CHINS.


110 Mass. Code Regs. 4.60-4.67 (2005).
Upon a CHINS adjudication a court may order services to be provided by the Department of Social Services (DSS) or commitment to DSS. Title 110 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulation sections 4.60 through 4.67 outline DSS’s responsibilities in CHINS cases:

  (1) Section 4.60 outlines the scope of sections 4.60-4.67, and describes the scope to be enumerating DSS’s responsibilities under Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 119 §§ 39E-J;
(2) Section 4.61 outlines the four ways a child may come to the attention of DSS in a CHINS proceeding: (1) court referral, (2) court-ordered pre-trial detention, (3) court-prescribed services, and (4) court-ordered commitment of the child to the custody of DSS;
(3) Section 4.62 lists the four ways that a child may come into DSS’s custody through a court referral;
(4) Section 4.63 describes pre-trial detention;
(5) Section 4.64 lays out the scenario under which DSS is to provide services to a child adjudicated a CHINS, and the procedure for providing such services;
(6) Section 4.65 outlines court-ordered commitment of custody to DSS and the procedure to be taken;
(7) Section 4.67 outlines the attendance of DSS employees at CHINS court proceedings (Section 4.66 does not exist)


SELECTIVE CASE LAW

In re Angela, 833 N.E.2d 575, 584 (Mass. 2005). In this case the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) found that children adjudicated CHINS, who were placed outside the home, should be afforded an evidentiary hearing at readjudication proceedings. The SJC held that it was a violation of Due Process when the court failed to provide an evidentiary hearing before a six month extension of an out of home placement.

Commonwealth v. Florence F., 709 N.E.2d 418 (Mass. 1999). In Florence the SJC held that a juvenile judge cannot hold a child in criminal contempt for failure to complete the conditions set forth in a CHINS case. The SJC based this decision on the language of the statute, Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 119, sec. 39G, and the policy behind CHINS. The court also emphasized the non-criminal, and more nurturing nature of CHINS proceedings.

In re Gail 629 N.E.2d 1308 (Mass. 1994). In in re Gail, the SJC found that a CHINS case could not be dismissed based on a parent’s withdrawal of consent, stressing that it is the child’s interests considered and not the fitness of the parent. The court in in re Gail explains that in considering the Constitutional interests of the child it has to weigh the state interest against that of the child(s interest in being free from confinement.

Oscar F. v. County of Worcester, 587 N.E.2d 208 (Mass.1992). Court held that the CHINS statute did not authorize a judge to order a special education assignment, but a juvenile court judge could refer a child subject to a CHINS petition to a school committee to determine if the child is in need of special education.

Matter of Vincent, 562 N.E.2d 465 (Mass. 1990). In Vincent the SJC held that a judge could not directly order a child to attend school, but could make attendance a condition of custody under Mass. Gen. Law ch. 119 sec. 39G. The court also held that the Juvenile Court could not hold a child in criminal contempt for failure to comply with terms set forth by the court.

SECONDARY SOURCES

BOOKS

44A Mass. Prac. Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Jurisdiction § 4 (2006). Chapter 4 in volume 44A of the Massachusetts Practice Series is dedicated to the topic of CHINS. The chapter includes: (1) the history of CHINS; (2) a comprehensive explanation of the CHINS process, including forms; and (3) citations to sources that outline how other states approach CHINS, and a section on alternative approaches taken by other states to deal with CHINS like cases.

Child Welfare Practice in Massachusetts vol. II, 18-i-18-66 (Amy M. Karp et al., ed, MCLE, Inc. 2006). This two volume set contains a wealth of information on CHINS cases in chapter 18 of volume II entitled “CHINS Proceedings.” This chapter includes: (1) a brief history of CHINS, (2) the definition of CHINS, (3) a description and explanation of the process, and (4) sample forms. It complies the information from a number of already existing resources on the subject and offers helpful practice notes throughout.

R. Marc Kantrowitz, Amy M. Karp, & Stephen M. Limon, Massachusetts Juvenile Delinquency & Child Welfare Law Sourcebook (MCLE, Inc. 2006). This publication contains a condensed version of the information found in Child Welfare Practice in Massachusetts, described previously. In addition, this source contains the full text of statutes relating to CHINS cases.

Jay Blitzman et al., Massachusetts Juvenile Court Bench Book (MCLE, Inc. 2006). Part II of volume II is dedicated to CHINS. This publication includes: (1) a history of CHINS, (2) the definition of CHINS, (3) a description and explanation of the process, and (4) commentary directed at judges to be considered when hearing a CHINS case. This is a useful source because it gives a practitioner insight into the considerations a judge makes when deciding a CHINS case.

CHINS, The Step-Child of the Juvenile Justice System (Suffolk Advance Legal Studies 2000). This publication was a course packet for a course held by Advance Legal Studies at Suffolk University Law School and the Juvenile Justice Center. There are two versions of the packet available, one from November 8, 2000, and another from February 17, 2000. The February 17, 2000 course packet contains duplicate material from the November 8, 2000 packet and additional information, and as such is a more complete source. This publication includes: (1) CHINS cases and statutes, (2) articles on CHINS and mental health issues, (3) articles on CHINS and special education needs, and (4) sample documents and forms. While this publication contains a solid compilation of articles and other documents, only four libraries that have this publication in their collection. It may be more advantageous to start researching CHINS in one of the other resources listed.

CHINS Cases in our Courts (MCLE Inc. 1992). While this book is slightly outdated it does include thoughtful commentary about, and offers solutions for, the CHINS system and problems facing it that are still relevant today. The only problem with this source is that it does not include an index and as such it is hard to navigate without having to skim through the entire publication.

REPORTS/STUDIES

Citizens for Juvenile Justice, A Report Card on CHINS in Massachusetts ( Nov. 2000). This source provides a critique of Massachusetts’ success in CHINS cases. It summarizes the four commission reports made on CHINS cases since 1987. This source evaluates the success and implementation of recommendations made by the four commissions. In addition, this source makes its own recommendations on successfully implementing the recommendations of the four commissions.

Sandra Adams, In Jeopardy and at Risk : CHINS Cases in Massachusetts (1998). While almost 10 years old, this is the only numerical study available on CHINS cases in Massachusetts. The study includes information on: (1) the age and gender of CHINS offenders, (2) repeat CHINS offenders, (3) subsequent delinquent and criminal arraignments, and (4) a summary of the information and its implications.

Supreme Judicial Court Commission on Juvenile Justice, Final Report (1994). While an older publication, it may be useful because it outlines recommendations for the improvement of the CHINS system in Massachusetts by the SJC.

ARTICLES

Boston Foundation, Community Safety Initiative. This article summarizes a forum that was held in 2003, entitled “Preventing Juvenile Crime: The CHINS Law” referenced below. The summary is comprehensive and a good alternative to listening or viewing the entire forum online.

Tamar Ezer, Delivery of Legal Services to Children in the Boston Area, 8 U. Cal. Davis J. of Juv. L & Policy 95 (2004). This article gives a good overview of legal services provided to poor and underserved populations in Boston. The article describes which agencies provide what legal services for juveniles involved in CHINS cases in Massachusetts.

Alecia Humphrey, The Criminalization Of Survival Attempts: Locking Up Female Runaways and Other Status Offenders, 15 Hastings Women’s L.J.165 (2004). While not a Massachusetts specific article, this source does provide thoughtful insight into the problems that female children involved in the CHINS system face.

Joyce London Alexander, Aligning the Goals of Juvenile Justice with the Needs of Young Woman Offenders: A Proposed Praxis for Transformational Justice, 32 Suffolk U. L. Rev. (1999). This article explores problems related to treatment and adjudication of juvenile female offenders in the United States, and particularly in Massachusetts. The author of this source also makes recommendations for transformational justice reforms in the juvenile law system. While focused on the juvenile justice system as a whole, the author does reference CHINS cases, and his recommendations apply to CHINS cases.

WEBSITES

The Boston Foundation, Preventing Juvenile Crime: The CHINS Law. (October 7, 2003). This website provides a link to either an audio or video recording of a forum that took place in 2003, on the CHINS system in Massachusetts. The recording last approximately one hour and provides criticisms of the system in its current state and recommendations by the Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court, Martha P. Grace and the Commissioner of DSS, Harry Spence.

Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, Child in Need of Service Cases. This website is a good resource to provide clients with. It outlines in easy to understand terms what a CHINS case is and the steps in a CHINS proceeding.

Suffolk Law School, Juvenile Justice Links. Suffolk’s Law School library provides a comprehensive list of websites related to juvenile justice. While there are no links directly related to CHINS law, many of the links provide information on the subject. For example, it provides a link to the Citizens for Juvenile Justice webpage which published “A Report Card on CHINS in Massachusetts,” which is referenced previously in this research guide.