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The Concurrent Evolution and Intertwined Nature of Juvenile Drug Courts (JDC) and Reclaiming Futures (RF) Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2015
23 pages
This presentation first notes the urgency of drug treatment for juveniles processed by the justice system, followed by a review of the origin and evolution of juvenile drug courts, an overview of the Reclaiming Futures (RF) approach to juvenile justice reform, and a description of how JDC and RF have become integrated in an innovative program model.
Drug treatment should be a core feature of juvenile justice programming, because approximately 90 percent of drug use and related problem behaviors begin between the ages of 12 and 20. In addition, a high percentage of drug users engage in behavior that brings them into contact with the juvenile justice system. Juvenile drug courts (JDCs) started when pioneering juvenile justice leaders determined that the traditional system of juvenile processing was not addressing one of the primary causes of delinquent behaviors. JDCs were established to plan and implement a multidisciplinary team approach to drug treatment that focuses on treatment based on an offender needs assessment and the tailoring of treatment for both drug use and other problem behaviors to the needs of each juvenile, followed by the court's close monitoring of how each youth is responding to and participating in treatment. RF goals are to stimulate the development of interdisciplinary professional and community teams that will identify and implement evidence-based and culturally relevant screening, assessment, appropriate integrated care coordination, treatment, and developmentally appropriate recovery support systems. The integration of RF principles into the design and operation of JDCs promises to improve the effectiveness of the juveile justice system in addressing drug use and related problem behaviors. 4 figures and approximately 100 references

Date Published: October 1, 2015