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Drug Courts in the Juvenile Justice System (From Juvenile Drug Courts and Teen Substance Abuse, P 1-25, 2004, Jeffrey A. Butts and John Roman, eds. -- See NCJ-208175)

NCJ Number
Jeffrey A. Butts; John Roman
Date Published
25 pages
This paper reviews the key concepts of drug courts and describes the emergence of juvenile drugs courts as one of the most recent and fastest growing manifestations of the American drug court movement.
Because of the increasing number of arrests for drug offenses during the 1980's and 1990's, many jurisdictions established drug courts, a program model that emerged from Florida in the late 1980's. Under the drug court model, defendants are given an opportunity to have their charges dismissed or their sentences modified in return for completing a course of drug treatment under court supervision. Juvenile drug courts (JDC's) have many characteristics of adult drug courts; however, JDC programs place greater emphasis on the role of the family in all aspects of court operations. The JDC regime is also similar to that of traditional juvenile courts, but with three important differences: judicial oversight of case progress is greater; there are more court appearances; and the purposes and goals of substance abuse treatment are integrated with the entire court process. As the number of JDC's continues to grow, policymakers must have credible answers to two questions: Do drug courts reduce substance abuse among the youth who participate, and can communities trust JDC's to help them deal with their teen drug abuse problems. To the first question, the authors answer "probably;" and to the second question they answer "not necessarily." Although JDC's may help the individual juveniles who participate, the "net" of the JDC's may not be sufficiently large to impact juvenile drug abuse in general. Further, the cost of expanding the "net" would be prohibitive. Further, researchers are only beginning to examine drug court operations and their effectiveness, and many important questions about JDC's have not been answered. Additional evaluation research could help clarify the mission of juvenile drug courts and document their influence. 5 notes and 33 references