Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice

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The use of cocaine has been on a rise in the United States. Between 1980s and 1990s this epidemic has had a tremendous impact on the criminal justice system. This prevalent drug has affected society socially, physically and psychologically; causing violence and crime. “As a result of the war on drugs, drug offenders were arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated.” This led to a massive influx within the system. There were strategies that were attempted but not successful which caused offenders to repeat the cycle of being in and out of the system.

According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Between 1989 and 2000 over one thousand courts had either implemented or were planning to implement a drug court to address substance abuse and drug related crimes.” Juvenile drug courts’ was established in the United States in the mid-1990s. Juvenile drug courts establishment was following in the footsteps of the adult drug court foundation in the late 1980s and early 1990s because of its achievement in reducing.” The purpose of juvenile drug courts is to provide juvenile offenders who are involved with drugs in any form treatment. Within this treatment, reducing recidivism and substance abuse are key goals. “This program is designed to motivate and encourage the youth in many ways.” One way this program accomplishes this is by offering a great opportunity for adolescents to improve their lives and become substance abuse free.

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Another way the program achieves this is by encouraging stronger family bonds. Not only does the program assist with family issues it also helps youth with educational needs. The last way the program supports the individual is by helping them build their character and self-worth. The program is designed to rehabilitate rather than punish juvenile drug offenders. Individuals that the programs target are adolescents under the age of eighteen. “To be eligible for a drug court program practitioners look for characteristics including offense type, criminal history and chemical substance abuse.” If an individual is a violent offender, he will be unable to participate. The theory this program is based on is the Social Bonding theory. According to Travis Hirschi, “he believed that if social bonds are strong, then conformity is more likely and there is no chance of deviant behavior.” Social Bonding theory is based off of four elements. These concepts consist of Attachment, Commitment, Involvement and Beliefs. If adolescents follow these four elements, according to the theory, it will stop them from doing crimes. Conventional adults also play a major role in this theory. Adolescents are often successful in approving academic performance and reducing delinquency.

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