Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey served as an introductory speaker for the meeting, where eight members served on the Mental Health and Juvenile panel.
The members on the panel presented the fact that the juvenile justice system has very little money to spend on evaluating the mental health of young offenders. The little money the system does have is used to place individuals in environments where they can flourish. But funding shortages and an excess of offenders means this strategy is often temporary. "(The system) spends money to stabilize, but the lack of resources mean they are put back into the same environment and the problem returns," said Charles Anderson, a district court judge in Orange County.
Panel members said they want to get more funds to make the change permanent. Anderson said the primary question the panel needed to address was how to use the amount of resources available to meet the needs of children.
Janet Mason, a professor of public law and government at UNC, said the mental health services are an integral part of the N.C. Juvenile Code.
"I think it's a matter of the Juvenile Code and the juvenile justice system depending on a lot of other systems," Mason said. "The purposes of the juvenile justice system can't be achieved without resources.
"And high on that list are mental health resources for the juvenile and the juvenile's parents."
Xavier, a youth in the juvenile justice system, has attended two training schools, which are schools for kids who are deemed unsafe for a regular school. The name Xavier is used to protect the identity of the adjudicated individual, who served on the panel.
"Training school is not the place for everyone," he said. "There was not enough supervision."
Xavier also said he believes that if the training school staff members are evaluated more closely when they are hired, it would lessen the physical abuse suffered by students at the school.