Pubdate: Tue, 26 Oct 2004
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: James Mayse
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Youth)


After several years of effort on the part of judges, youth advocates
and substance abuse counselors, Daviess County seems poised to finally
get something other parts of the state have had for years -- a juvenile drug

Earlier this month, the state Department for Juvenile Justice gave the
county a $15,000 grant to start a pilot juvenile drug court program.

"I'm hoping to get this thing up and running by January," said Daviess
District Judge Joe Castlen. "Substance abuse has increased. It has
taken a quantum leap," Castlen said. "I remember 20 years ago it was
laughable: We never thought drug abuse would come here."

Juvenile drug court is an alternative sentencing program which
combines strict supervision with monitoring, counseling and family
involvement for youths ages 13 to 17. To be eligible for juvenile drug
court, the teens can only be charged with a nonviolent offense related
to tobacco, drugs or alcohol.

The program would be loosely based on the successful adult drug court,
which offers select adult offenders treatment, strict monitoring and
mandatory employment.

The county's juvenile drug court team applied twice for funding to
start a program, but both applications were denied, Castlen said.

"We have tried and tried and tried and put in two applications and
have been shot down twice," he said. "I was a little disappointed, to
say the least."

Castlen said, after the second grant request was denied, Community
Solutions for Substance Abuse set up an Oct. 1 meeting between the
team and officials from the juvenile justice department. At that
meeting, state official announced the $15,000 grant.

"We became involved the day (the team) was denied the second round of
funding," said Debbie Zuerner-Johnson, executive director for
Community Solutions. The announcement about the $15,000 state grant,
Zuerner-Johnson said, was a surprise.

"What happened was we got more than we bargained for," she said.

Henderson County also received a $15,000 state grant for a juvenile
drug court site. Castlen said Daviess and Henderson drug court teams
are discussing the possibility of pooling their grants in order to
hire a full-time coordinator to oversee both drug courts.

Castlen said there is definitely a need for an alternative sentencing
program for juvenile substance abusers.

"Even four years ago, I remember saying to myself, 'Wow, I (think)
half of these kids have substance abuse problems' " who appeared in
his court, Castlen said. "(Now) almost every one of them has a
substance abuse problem."

Shirley Hazelwood, a social worker and substance abuse counselor who
is a member of the Daviess County team, said the group is also seeking
private funds to help finance the drug court.

"I think once we get it up and running and it works, it will be easier
to get some funding," Hazelwood said.
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