- Employees of the Divisions of Youth Services, Department of Human Resources, are subject to provisions, rules and regulations of Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council as an integral component of overall Criminal Justice and Correctional System.
- All personnel engaged in an active, hands-on, care and treatment at Division of Youth Services facilities exclusive of maintenance or other personnel not related to treatment.
- Citizenship requirement for youthful corrections officers is a valid constitutionally defensible exercise of the police power.
The Criminal Justice Training and Standards Act relates to various statewide components of the Criminal Justice and Corrections System. As a component part of the overall correctional community, the Division of Youth Services would be subject to those standards, regulations and guidelines laid down by the Council pursuant G.S. 17A-1 et seq. The General Assembly has stated with some specificity the goals incident the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Act. Proper administration of the Criminal Justice System as a whole is an integral part of the maintenance of the health, safety and welfare of the people of North Carolina.
Regulations promulgated by the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council give express definition to the term "youth correctional officer":
North Carolina Administrative Code 5.0100(21) "Youth correctional officer" is any employee of the North Carolina Division of Youth Services who is responsible for the evaluation, treatment, instruction or supervision of juveniles commmitted to that agency. (Emphasis added)"
This definition is consistent with the proper administration of the corrections community as an overall part of the Criminal Justice System and as such would be applicable to the Division of Youth Services, Department of Human Resources.
The legislative intent incident transferral of Division of Youth Services from Corrections to Human Resources appears in G.S. 134A-1.
"The General Assembly hereby declares its intent and legislative policy to separate the administration of training schools for committed delinquents from the adult corrections system to avoid the stigma and punitive philosophy associated with penal facilities for convicted adult offenders. It is further intended that institutional programs for delinquents provide appropriate treatment and care according to the needs of the children in care and that such programs be appropriately coordinated with other services for children within the Department of Human Resources."
This transferral, while perhaps a philosophical separation is not a divorcement from the corrections community. Division of Youth Services still represents a component part of the overall corrections faculty of the State. Juvenile offenders are sentenced to the care and treatment of the Division of Youth Services by the courts solely on the basis of their age and in the interest of giving them another chance. Absent the Division of Youth Services, youthful offenders would be sentenced directly the the care and treatment of the Department of Corrections. It was this separation which the Legislature deemed necessary in order to foster broadguage correctional goals such as providing effective rehabilitation and treatment of juvenile offenders. This does not, however, remove the Division of Youth Services from the spectrum of the Criminal Justice Community, it merely clarifies its focus.
The council's regulations codified in the N.C.A.C. § .0203 defining youth correctional officers provide an accurate profile for employment of personnel:
"5.0203 YOUTH CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS
Every youth correctional officer employed by the Division of Youth Services shall:
- be a citizen of the United States;
- be at least 20 years of age;
- be of good character as determined by a thorough background investigation as prescribed in Rule .0301 of this Chapter;
- be fingerprinted and a search made of local state, and national fingerprint files to disclose any criminal record as prescribed in Rule .0303(b) of this Chapter;
- have attained the associate degree or have satisfactorily completed at least 60 semester hours of educational credit or 90 quarter hours of educational credit at an accredited technical institute, community college, junior college, college, or university as prescribed in Rule .0305(b) of this Chapter; Note: Although not presently required by these regulations, it is recommended by the Council that every youth correctional officer continue his education through an accredited institution of higher learning at the rate of not less than six college semester units of educational credit or nine quarter hours of educational credit during each 24 month period subsequent to his employment.
- be examined by a licensed physician and meet the physical requirements necessary to properly fulfill the responsibilities of a youth correction officer as prescribed in Rule .0307 on this Chapter:
Note: Although not presently required by these regulations, it is recommended by the council that every candidate for the position of youth correctional officer be examined by the licensed psychiatrist or clinical psychologist prior to employment or be administered a psychological evaluation test battery to determine his mental and emotional suitability to perform the duties of an officer. A recommended procedure for psychological examinations is contained in the Specifications Section of the "Regulations Manual" (Revised 12-31-73) published by the Council.
(7) be interviewed personally prior to employment by the department head, his representative or representatives, to assess the individual's suitability for employment including such things as his understanding of the correctional process, ability to communicate, appearance and demeanor as prescribed in Rule .0309 of this Chapter."
Thus, the Division of Youth Services would be subject to the rules and regulations of the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council notwithstanding its transfer from the Department of Corrections. The policy evinced by G.S. 134A-1 is clear and consistent with those standards laid down by the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council.
The rules and regulations of the Criminal Justice Training and Standards Council as set forth in the N.C.A.C. Sec. 5.0203 are by definition applicable to all personnel who have an active role in the "hands-on" treatment, rehabilitation or other work with juveniles in Division of Youth Services' facilities. This is made clear by the definition in 5.0100(21) which envisions an active role for youth correctional officers. These standards would not be applicable to those personnel whose job description and actual function place them beyond the ambit of actual care, treatment and rehabilitation.
The Criminal Justice Training Standards Council's requirement mandating citizenship for youth
correctional officers is a constitutionally defensible requirement. Hursey v. Town of Gibsonville, 284 N.C. 522, 202 S.E.2d 161 (1974). See, 5 NC.C.A. § 5.0203(1) for complete set of standards and regulations for youth corrections officers as set forth in conclusion 1. To formulate and implement criteria for public section employment is a valid exercise of the police power. This exercise is subject to the requirement of reasonableness. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company v. Ingram, 290 N.C. 457, 226 S.E. 2d 498 (1976).
Relevant factors to be considered in assessing reasonableness of an exercise of the police power include the following: (1) Previous conditions leading up to the enactment of legislation or administrative action with a focus on what evil or condition is sought to be remedied (2) Effectiveness of a law or regulation at solving that problem (3) Any potential for harm visited on affected parties by new legislation or administrative action (4) Whether ultimate objectives could be accomplished by other more reasonable means. See generally C. Antieau, Modern Constitutional Law, § 15:37(1969). Here the expression of legislative intent in G.S. 134A-1 is squarely addressed to maintenance of the overall health, safety, and welfare of all persons subject to the operations of the Division of Youth Services. This operation is an incident of the overall Criminal Justice and Corrections System. Construed as a whole the employment requirements are reasonable. Citizenship is a threshold requirement given the highly sensitive nature of the treatment, care and evaluation of juvenile offenders entrusted to the Division of Youth Services. Youth correction officers are subjected to strict personnel evaluation and background scrutiny in determining their fitness for employment. Citizenship is a threshold requirement designed to supply a commonality of background. Citizenship requirements are a valid constitutionally permissible exercise of the police power, for persons employed in sensitive positions within the Criminal Justice System.
Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General
Christopher S. Crosby Associate Attorney