POLSON — A Lake County judge said she is keeping a 10-year-old boy in custody on $500,000 bail until he can receive a mental health evaluation that had been scheduled and missed three times in the past 14 months.
The St. Ignatius boy was cited for disorderly conduct at school, violating the conditions of a deferred prosecution agreement for his role in a 2012 burglary and felony theft, according to court records. Last week, District Judge Kim Christopher ordered the boy held in a juvenile detention center on $500,000 bail until the evaluation could be completed.
The boy’s grandmother, Dorinda Buck, said Tuesday the earliest available appointment was May 22 and complained that her grandson was struggling while being held 135 miles away from home in a juvenile detention center with older children. She said the family agreed the boy needed to be evaluated, but wanted him to be home until that could be arranged.
On Wednesday, Christopher said the boy had an appointment to start the evaluation with Dr. Robert Velin on Thursday, with a second daylong session on May 17.
The Missoulian reported Christopher made her decision despite arguments from public defender Steve Eschenbacher that the state was using the criminal justice system to deal with a mental health issue, Buck’s promise to get her grandson to the evaluation or face jail time herself and a promise from Polson attorney Matt O’Neill that he would drive the boy to his appointments if necessary.
Christopher apologized for the pain the boy’s incarceration was causing his family but said “this is our opportunity to get a handle on where (the boy) is headed.”
The judge heard testimony that adults have failed to get the boy to three previously scheduled neuropsychological evaluations since March 2012, when he first got in trouble for his role in breaking into a Polson rafting company.
The boy was living with an aunt in Washington state the first time, his father failed to complete the necessary paperwork for the second appointment last September and it was unclear who was his legal guardian when a third appointment was missed in January, the judge was told.
The boy was removed from his father’s care by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Child Protective Services for reasons that weren’t disclosed in court, and his grandmother became his legal guarding sometime in January.
The boy has missed nine of 15 scheduled appointments with mental health professionals in St. Ignatius since then, Deputy County Attorney Cory Allen said Wednesday.
Chief juvenile probation officer Barbara Monaco testified that the staff at the Reintegrating Youthful Offenders Correctional Facility in Galen told her the boy was doing fine there. She also recommended that he be held there until the evaluation is completed.
Eschenbacher called Monaco a “hero” for getting the start of the psychological evaluation moved up almost two weeks earlier than had been thought possible.
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