Section 12-15-101

Purpose of the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act; short title; goals for the juvenile court.

(a) This chapter shall be known as the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act. The purpose of this chapter is to facilitate the care, protection, and discipline of children who come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, while acknowledging the responsibility of the juvenile court to preserve the public peace and security.

(b) In furtherance of this purpose, the following goals have been established for the juvenile court:

(1) To preserve and strengthen the family of the child whenever possible, including improvement of the home environment of the child.

(2) To remove the child from the custody of his or her parent or parents only when it is judicially determined to be in his or her best interests or for the safety and protection of the public.

(3) To reunite a child with his or her parent or parents as quickly and as safely as possible when the child has been removed from the custody of his or her parent or parents unless reunification is judicially determined not to be in the best interests of the child.

(4) To secure for any child removed from parental custody the necessary treatment, care, guidance, and discipline to assist him or her in becoming a responsible, productive member of society.

(5) To promote a continuum of services for children and their families from prevention to aftercare, considering wherever possible, prevention, diversion, and early intervention.

(6) To promote the use of community-based alternatives as deterrents to acts of juvenile delinquency and as least restrictive dispositional alternatives.

(7) To hold a child found to be delinquent accountable for his or her actions to the extent of the age, education, mental and physical condition, and background of the child, and all other relevant factors and to provide a program of supervision, care, and rehabilitation, including restitution by the child to the victim of his or her delinquent acts.

(8) To achieve the foregoing goals in the least restrictive setting necessary, with a preference at all times for the preservation of the family and the integration of parental accountability and participation in treatment and counseling programs.

(c) Judicial procedures through which these goals are accomplished will assure the parties a fair hearing where their constitutional and other statutory rights are recognized and enforced.

(d) This chapter shall be liberally construed to the end that each child coming under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court shall receive the care, guidance, and control, preferably in his or her own home, necessary for the welfare of the child and the best interests of the state.

(Acts 1990, No. 90-674, p. 1304, §1; Acts 1997, No. 97-621, p. 1087, §1; §12-15-1.1; amended and renumbered by Act 2008-277, p. 441, §1.)