Washington Law Review


Carrie A. Tracy


The Becca Bill, enacted in Washington State in 1995, changed the way Washington treats runaway juveniles. The Bill creates a series of secure crisis residential centers and authorizes law enforcement officers to take juvenile runaways into custody and place them in these secure facilities. The facilities must keep the admitted juveniles for at least twenty-four hours but no more than five days. This Comment argues that the Becca Bill, which provides no judicial review of the commitment to detention, violates the procedural due process requirements of Washington and U.S. constitutions. While courts have extended procedural due process protection to juveniles' liberty interest in freedom from bodily restraint in the context of both juvenile delinquency proceedings and commitment for mental health care, no court has considered the due process rights of juvenile runaways in Washington. This Comment concludes that the Becca Bill's runaway detention provisions violate constitutional procedural due process requirements and, therefore, the Washington Legislature should amend the Becca Bill to provide judicial review of a juvenile's detention within twenty-four hours of the juvenile's commitment to detention. In the absence of legislative action to correct this problem, courts should require such review.

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