The purpose of this Note is to review two specific and newly emerging therapeutic courts: juvenile mental health courts and juvenile drug courts. It will explain how and why a mental health element should be implemented into the juvenile drug court system. Part II of this Note will give a historical and procedural overview of juvenile drug courts. These procedures will draw mainly from the newly formed Medina County Juvenile Drug Court, located in Medina, Ohio. Part III will explain the origination and procedures currently employed by juvenile mental health courts, as they relate specifically to Santa Clara's Court for Individualized Treatment for Adolescents. Part IV will explain why juvenile drug courts should implement certain elements of mental health courts because of the significant co-occurrence of juvenile substance use and accompanying mental health problems that occur in a significant number of juveniles. Studies have shown, and court personnel agree, that up to 70% of juveniles with substance abuse of alcohol problems have at least one mental health issue that needs to be addressed. Part V of this Note will examine the proposed integration of a mental health element into the juvenile drug courts in light of several pieces of recent and pending legislation, with a special view towards the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004, which supports mental health treatment for criminal offenders in place of traditional incarceration. Finally, Part VI will explain how and why the juvenile drug court system should integrate a mental health element into its current procedures. Like any system in its infancy, the juvenile therapeutic justice system faces many challenges and issues as it attempts to gain more widespread acceptance. This Note strives to help the legal community embrace the therapeutic alternative as a means to improve the lives of juvenile substance abuse offenders with co-occurring mental health problems, while also increasing public safety in communities throughout the United States.
Note, Theories of Therapeutic Evolution for Juvenile Drug Courts in the Face of the Onset of the Co-occurrence of Mental Health Issues and Substance/Alcohol Abuse, 19 J.L. & Health 177 (2004-2005)