Juvenile Drug Court (JDC) is an intervention program for youth involved with the San Diego Superior Court who have substance abuse issues. Juvenile Drug Court is a collaborative effort between:
- Juvenile Court,
- District Attorney,
- Public Defender,
- Probation Department,
- Law enforcement agencies,
- Family Clinicians, and
- Health and Human Services Agency.
The Drug Court intervention focuses on:
- intensive substance abuse treatment,
- probation supervision, with frequent court appearances,
- random drug testing, and
- individual, group and family counseling.
The court awards incentives for compliant behavior and imposes sanctions for negative behavior. Drug Court participants who demonstrate sobriety from alcohol and/or illicit drugs, as well as law abiding behavior for a continuous nine-month period are eligible to graduate from the program, which results in successful completion of probation, dismissal of charges, and removal from the court’s supervision.
Drug Court Team
The core group that oversees a juvenile’s participation in the Drug Court Program is referred to as the Drug Court Team. Members of the team consist of the following:
- Deputy District Attorney,
- Public Defender,
- Probation Officer and Law Enforcement,
- Juvenile recovery specialist, and
- Family clinicians
The Drug Court team members meet prior to the Drug Court hearing to review each minor’s progress. The Probation Department prepares a weekly progress report for this hearing. Attention is given to the minor’s specific treatment program, alcohol/drug test results, and school progress. Input from the juvenile’s parents/guardians is also reviewed to determine compliance at home. A team consensus regarding the minor’s progress is reached at this meeting, which the judge will consider prior to the court being called to order, and upon receiving testimony from the minor.Judge
The Superior Court Judge or Commissioner is the final authority for all issues involving the minor, including treatment, incentives and sanctions.
The Deputy District Attorney actively participates in a non-adversarial role to advance and balance the Drug Court participant’s rehabilitative needs with that of public safety.
The Deputy Public Defender counsels Drug Court participants about their legal and constitutional rights. The Deputy Public Defender, as a non-adversarial team member, is responsible for representing the juvenile’s position in court.
The Probation Officer will, in most cases, become the Probation Officer of record while a juvenile is in the Drug Court program. They play in important role in monitoring Drug Court participants by making periodic visits to home or school to make sure the minor is following the program. These officers act as the eyes and ears for the team.
Juvenile Recovery Specialist
The County of San Diego contracts with licensed programs for Juvenile Recovery Specialists who monitor the Juvenile’s drug treatment. The Specialist creates a treatment plan and maintains regular contact with a participant’s treatment provider. Some of the Juvenile Recovery Specialists duties include:
- Reviewing cases ordered for screening and providing treatment input at all Drug Court hearings.
- Conducting random drug testing.
- Charting progress and reporting positive and negative events to the team.
The Family Clinician plays an integral role by providing expertise in behavioral and mental health issues. The clinician works with participants to provide clinical support, both individually and in group sessions, to assess and provide treatment.