Forsyth County’s juvenile drug-treatment court celebrated its first three graduates in April. The Forsyth County juvenile drug-treatment court started in January 2013 and is geared toward nonviolent youths ages 12 to 16 who have substance abuse problems and have been sentenced to probation in juvenile court.
The goal of the program is to give participants a chance at a better life, ultimately reducing recidivism. Juanita Campbell, grandmother of one of the graduates, celebrated the program for this mission:
“I thank God for this program because I don’t want to give him to the streets,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to bury him. I don’t want him to spend 30 years in prison.”
Participants are required to remain in school, perform 25 hours of community service, and are subject to random drug testing. It typically takes nine to 15 months to graduate from the program, with assessments every 90 days to monitor the teens’ progress.
Forsyth County Court works with the local Reclaiming Futures to carry out assessments. Jemi Sneed, project director of Reclaiming Futures, said all participants are assessed to determine what type of substance abuse and other treatment they need, and then directed to the most appropriate treatment.
Sen. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, spoke at the graduation in Forsyth County Court, urging the graduates to dream big dreams and reach out to the adults who have helped them in juvenile drug treatment court when they need them.
“Our youth is our future,” she said. “Dr. (Martin Luther) King once said that our lives began to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. I’m glad you weren’t silent and I’m glad that we’re not dying.”
Mark Kinney, the coordinator for the juvenile drug-treatment court, said 22 teens are currently in the program, and a total of 36 teens have participated.
Note: The court was made possible through a $1.23 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal money comes to Forsyth County through the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency.
Image from Creative Commons User Andree Lüdtke
Cecilia Bianco is an account executive for Prichard Communications. She contributes to the Reclaiming Futures blog regarding topics of juvenile justice reform and substance abuse prevention.