from the Rush Superior Court Nos. 70D01-1812-JD-94,
70D01-1805-JD-31. The Honorable Brian D. Hill, Judge.
Attorney for Appellant Joel C. Wieneke Brooklyn, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General
M.C. was sixteen years old when the juvenile court declared
him a ward of the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC).
M.C. now appeals, claiming that the juvenile court abused its
discretion in awarding wardship to the DOC, that such a
determination violated the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana
Constitution, and also violated the cruel and unusual
punishment provision of the Eighth Amendment to the United
States Constitution and the proportionality clause of the
Indiana Constitution. We affirm.
& Procedural History
On March 23, 2018, officers from the Rushville Police
Department responded to a report of a fight and observed
fifteen-year-old M.C. and another individual leaving the
area. When asked for identification, M.C. provided a false
name to one of the officers. M.C. smelled of alcohol and
submitted to a portable breath test, which revealed a blood
alcohol level of .05%.
On May 11, 2018, the State filed a petition alleging that
M.C. was a delinquent child. M.C. admitted the allegation,
and the parties agreed to an immediate disposition. M.C. was
placed under the supervision of the county probation
department for six months and was ordered to submit to random
drug testing. The juvenile court also required M.C. to attend
school regularly and to not possess and use marijuana or
other controlled substances.
On October 2, 2018, the State filed a petition to modify the
disposition, alleging that M.C. had admitted to continued
marijuana use, failed to submit a urine sample on August 20,
2018, was suspended from school for two days on September 10,
2018, and was again suspended for smoking tobacco on
September 13, 2018. Before the juvenile court held an initial
hearing on that petition, the State filed an amendment on
December 18, 2018, adding allegations that M.C. was referred
to the probation department for committing theft, that he was
suspended from school again in October and early November for
possessing marijuana, had been again referred to the
probation department for marijuana possession, and that he
was expelled from school on November 20, 2018.
The evidence showed that during M.C.'s suspension meeting
at the school on November 14, 2018, M.C. stated that he
"want[ed] to join the military. I want to kill people. I
would like to kill people. I love violence and blood. You
know I almost killed <omit> (sic) right?"
Appendix Vol. II at 93. The theft allegation arose
out of an October 13, 2018 incident where M.C. went to a
Pizza King, ordered a pizza and two drinks with another
juvenile, ate the food and then left without paying. M.C.
admitted that it was his idea to avoid paying.
In November 2018, a resource officer for Rush County Schools
was handed a foil ball by the dean of students that had been
obtained from M.C. The officer unrolled the aluminum foil and
observed suspected marijuana inside. M.C. volunteered to the
officer that it was "good stuff." Id. at
125. The act of theft from Pizza King and M.C.'s
possession of marijuana in November resulted in another
allegation of delinquency.
At a hearing on February 12, 2019, M.C. admitted to the
allegations in the modification and those set forth in the
delinquency petition. M.C. also admitted that he had smoked
marijuana the previous Friday and a few days prior to that.
The juvenile court ordered M.C. detained at the Youth
Opportunity Center (YOC) until his scheduled dispositional
hearing on February 26, 2019.
The record shows that M.C. had previously been diagnosed with
ADHD and had received counseling and medication for that
condition. In 2015, M.C. received a competency evaluation,
outpatient sex offender treatment, and a psychosexual risk
assessment and evaluation. In light of a proceeding through
the Department of Child Services (DCS), M.C. received
inpatient treatment, individual and group therapy, and
substance abuse treatment at Wernle Youth and Family
Treatment Facility (Wernle) in 2016. Following discharge from
Wernle, M.C. was provided with various services to assist him
transition to his residence. Those services, which included
home-based individual and family therapy, medication
management, and a mentor, took place three times per week.
The services ceased in January 2017, when DCS terminated its
At the February 26 dispositional hearing, the Rush County
probation officer recommended that wardship of M.C. be
awarded to the DOC. The probation officer made that
recommendation based on unsuccessful community and home-based
treatment and residential placement services through Marion
County probation, Marion County DCS, Rush County probation,
and Rush County DCS. When the probation officer spoke with
M.C. regarding the disposition, M.C. indicated that if he was
placed on home detention, he would continue to have access to
drugs and would have others bring marijuana and other drugs
to him. M.C. testified at the hearing that he possessed and
smoked marijuana on November 14, because it was his birthday
and it "took the edge off." Transcript Vol.
II at 39.
In the end, the juvenile court granted wardship of M.C. to
the DOC. Following the hearing, the juvenile court stated
[M.C.], I don't have any choice other than to recommend
the, uh, wardship to [the] Department of Corrections.
You've been through the probation system several times,
received services from Probation, DCS. [I]t's clear to
this Court, this isn't a matter of impulse control or
some psychological disorder or strong addiction problem. This
is that you don't have any regard for the rules. You
don't see why they would be important and nothing's
gonna change until you decide to change. And the fact that
you may have, may or may not have come to some realization in
the last week, um, doesn't mean a whole lot at this
point. Um, you've been on probation. You've
continued, you just do whatever you want. We have a Court
hearing and by the time we have another hearing you do
something else and just keep it up until now. So, um, the
only time where you haven't violated really between court
hearings is the time that you've been secured . . . in
[the] YOC. So . . . it's a DOC commitment . . . [and you
will be] held at the YOC in secure, um, detention until you
can be transported to the Department of Corrections.
Transcript at 33.
On March 19, 2019, M.C. was transferred to the Pendleton
Juvenile Correctional facility after completing the DOC
intake phase. As a ward of the DOC, M.C. will participate in
programs that will include a "growth phase" and a
"transition phase." Appendix Vol. II at
157. During the growth phase, a treatment plan will be
developed for M.C. Once M.C. has successfully completed that
program, M.C. will move to the transition phase, which
involves the development of an aftercare plan. M.C.'s
release from the DOC "will depend primarily on how well
[M.C.] progresses in his program." Id.