The ending of Forsyth County’s juvenile drug-treatment court is a great loss for our youth and our community.
The court, geared toward nonviolent children from ages 12 to 16 with substance-abuse problems that led to probation, came to an end in September after funding ran out, the Journal’s Michael Hewlett reported recently. The program was supported by a $1.23 million portion of a federal grant awarded to the state in January 2013.
The court had proved to be an effective tool in deterring youth from what could become wasted lives of drug use and crime. It helped them find more productive outcomes and pursuits. U.S. Justice Department studies have shown that drug-court graduates are considerably less likely to return to drug abuse, or further crime, than drug offenders who haven’t. It’s also less expensive to send offenders through such programs than to imprison them. Such courts also lead to much less recidivism.
“As many as 67 percent of young people involved in the juvenile justice system in Forsyth County, NC also have a substance abuse problem,” according to the court’s partner, Reclaiming Futures Forsyth County.
Under the court’s supervision, Reclaiming Futures supervised programs for youth that involved treatment for addiction, monitoring their school attendance and performance and their home environment, performing random drug tests and performing 25 hours of community service. That’s a much more successful recipe for recovery than imprisonment.
As the program ended, about 24 young people were in various stages of completion, the Journal reported. They will now go to regular juvenile court.
Forsyth District Judge Denise Hartsfield and Laurie Hutchins presided over the drug-treatment court. They’re concerned about the well being of the young people and would like to find a way to continue the court.
Years ago the state sponsored a similar court, but that ended with a budget cut in 2011 and was never revived, despite being a long-term money saver.
We hope, for the sake of our youth, the county will be able to find some other way to fund this productive and successful court.
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