Juvenile Drug Courts

Topics: Drug court, Judge, Prison Pages: 5 (1910 words) Published: April 20, 2005
Drug Courts came about as a result of a backlogged court system and a steady, rapidly increasing prison population. Drug courts are a form of diversion that helps the offender through rehabilitation and the community through an increased sense of protection, which serves the best interest of everyone. Drug Courts are community based intermediate sanctions that incorporate treatment principles into the Criminal Justice System and divert drug offenders from traditional punishments of probation and prison. The objective of drug courts programs is to treat the underlying problems of addiction among drug offenders and eliminate participants' future drug use and crime. Drug courts came about as a result of the 1980's "war on drugs" where all levels of government came together to crack down on an epidemic of crack-cocaine use that had society believing that drugs were the main problem of the criminal justice system. Courts on state and federal levels were burdened and overloaded with drug cases. As a result, prison populations began to rise at an amazing rate. According to statistics, "the number of adults arrested for drug-related violations increased 27.3% between 1980 and 1995, in the same period, the percentage of prisoners in the custody of state correctional authorities for drug offenses increased from 6.4% to 22.7%". With this rate of increase in drug offenses going through the courts system, something had to be done to manage the large number of cases that were drug-related. In the beginning, drug courts were only used to lighten the overcrowding in the court system. They did not help to treat the offender or the offender's addictions. In 1989, Janet Reno and Timothy Murray began a drug court program in Dade County, Florida that became a prototype for the nation. This program along with many other drug programs consists of cooperation between the judiciary, the district attorney, the public defender, probation officers, the police department, and the community. Over the past decade drug courts have caught on immensely and now maintain decent status. These specialized courts were designed to make the processing of drug cases easier. They also were designed to help the offender by requiring treatment as part of the court supervised program. As of now almost every state has a drug court system. In June 2001, there were a total of 697 drug court programs in operation; serving an estimated 226,000 offenders and another 427 programs planned, according to the Office of Justice Programs. The drug courts primary goals include abstinence from drug use and reduction of recidivism. They work to increase community safety and awareness, life skills, and create a sense of well-being. As with adults, many nonviolent, substance-abusing juvenile offenders repeatedly cycle through the system due to a lack of intervention measures that would provide sanctions and services necessary to change their deviant behavior. In an attempt to resolve this problem, many communities have established juvenile drug courts. Determining the target population and eligibility is centered on making use of limited available resources. Because of this, most juvenile drug courts focus on non-violent juveniles with moderate to heavy substance abuse problems. The offender must sign the drug court agreement and a release of information, which states they admit to committing the crime. The juvenile drug court treatment program begins with an evaluation process. The program is then implemented into a four-phase sequence that concludes with graduation. In Phase I, an individual assessment plan is established that includes a minimum of nine hours of intervention per week. This intervention consists of social activities and health related classes that cover topics such as AIDS, HIV, and STD's. Individuals may also undergo family intervention, individual counseling, programs such as AA/NA, anger-management, self-esteem classes, and support groups. During the nine...
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