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Juvenile Drug Court Movement

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1997
2 pages

This Fact Sheet discusses the features, current operations, and projected future of juvenile drug courts, which provide a combination of intensive judicial supervision, escalating sanctions, mandatory drug testing, treatment, and strong aftercare programs.


Beginning as a grassroots initiative, drug courts have spread across the Nation. Currently, approximately 244 drug court programs are either operating or are being planned, with 25 dedicated to juveniles. This movement is being facilitated by Title V of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which authorized the Attorney General to make grants for establishing drug courts available to States, State courts, local courts, units of local government, and Indian Tribal governments. Juvenile drug courts face distinctive challenges not encountered in adult drug courts. These include the negative influence of peers, gangs, and drug-abusing family members; a focus on family issues; compliance with confidentiality requirements for juveniles; and a focus on adolescent developmental needs. In responding to these distinctive needs of juveniles, drug courts are using earlier and more comprehensive intake assessment; a focus on juvenile functioning within the family throughout case processing; and coordination of relevant activities of the court, the treatment community, the school system, and other community juvenile service agencies. It is anticipated that through FY 1996 and FY 1997, the number of juvenile drug court grantees will increase, accompanied by increased Federal technical assistance, training, and resources for juvenile drug courts.

Date Published: March 1, 1997