Juvenile and Family Drug Courts: Profile of Program
Characteristics and Implementation Issues

June 1998

Caroline S. Cooper
Shanie Bartlett

This report was prepared by the OJP Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at American University, Washington D.C. This project is supported by Grant No. 95-DC-MX-K002 awarded by the Drug Courts Program Office, Office of Justice Programs., U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U. S. Department of Justice.


This report was made possible by the many individuals involved with the operation of juvenile and family drug courts in the U.S.who contributed information on the programs summarized in this publication. We are deeply grateful to them for compiling this information as well as for sharing their insights regarding policy and other issues relevant to implementing and sustaining juvenile and family drug courts over the long term. Most of all, we thank them for their initiative, leadership and dedication in launching these programs in their respective jurisdictions. As this report illustrates, juvenile and family drug courts are clearly much more complex programs to oversee than the traditional adjudication process that would otherwise be applicable. However, the impact that juvenile and family drug courts can achieve and have already achieved during the few years in which they have operated can be immeasurable for both the court system, the individual participant, and the community.

We also extend special appreciation to Judge John T. Parnham, who established the adult, juvenile and family drug courts in the First Judicial Circuit in Escambia County (Pensacola), Florida and serves as the drug court judge for the juvenile and family drug court dockets in that district; Robin Wright, Drug Court Coordinator for the First Judicial Circuit in Escambia County; Dr. Michael Smith, Director of the Substance Abuse Clinic at Lincoln Hospital in New York City, who has been instrumental in developing the treatment components of many drug courts; Judge Thomas Merrigan, First Justice for the Franklin County, Massachusetts District Court and who presides over the combined juvenile and family drug court in that jurisdiction; and Robin Kimbrough, Associate Director of the Institute for Families and Society at the University of South Carolina; for their review of the draft survey instrument developed to capture the information presented in this report as well as for their on-going guidance and insights regarding juvenile and family drug court operations. We are also grateful to the staff of the OJP Drug Courts Program Office for their assistance in compiling the information upon which this report is based and in preparing this report for final publication. In particular, we extend our very special thanks to Marilyn Roberts and Jennifer Brophy for their guidance and many helpful suggestions that have been incorporated into this document and for their on-going assistance despite the many other demands for their attention.

Readers of this report are encouraged to contact the judges and other program officials listed in the Appendix to further discuss the programs described as well as to contact the OJP Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project for additional information as well as technical assistance in exploring the feasibility of adapting these programs to other jurisdictions.

Caroline S. Cooper, Director
OJP Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project
American University
June 1998

Table of Contents



I. Survey Overview

II. Description of Juvenile and Family Drug Courts Included in this Report

Section III

Section IV

Section V

Section VI
Section VII

III. Program Evaluation and Assessment

IV. Planning and Implementation Issues Encountered and Strategies for Resolving Them

V. Special Issues Addressed

Section VIII