Once a juvenile is adjudicated either a delinquent or a "child in need of services,” the challenge for the criminal justice system is to fashion treatment alternatives appropriate to the offender and the offense. It is not always apparent to the court whether a child has an alcohol abuse or dependency problem that requires treatment. Therefore, the court should use a screening and assessment mechanism that identifies whether the child is an abuser and, if so, prescribes a course of treatment. Treatment alternatives range from counseling to education.
Justice-system-oriented court programs that address driving while impaired have four basic components:
- Deterrence (license revocation and fines)
- Education (remedial driving and other mandatory educational programs, victim impact panels)
- Rehabilitation (substance abuse treatment, community service, and victim restitution)
- Incapacitation (detention, supervised probation, and court-mandated driving restrictions)
Officials in the juvenile justice system have come to realize that no single component, acting in isolation from the others, provides the answer to reducing juvenile DUI. Instead, communities must initiate comprehensive programs and identify available resources that can work together to create a long-term impact. Even when police, prosecutors, and judges work together, the next vital component—supervision and treatment alternatives—must be included. Judges must have workable alternatives to the extremes of probation and institutionalization for juvenile DUI offenders. The following initiatives further one or more of the four objectives noted above.
Minor in Possession: Level I
This education and counseling program is administered by the Bismarck Police Department Youth Bureau as part of its comprehensive diversion program. To participate in the program a youngster need not have been arrested for an alcohol or other drug-related offense; he or she must only have an identified problem. In fact, many program participants are referred to the program by parents, schools, or the local division of juvenile services.
The objectives of the program are to teach the laws that apply to juveniles regarding alcohol and other drug use, require youths to develop a plan to stay out of trouble, give information on how to say no to drugs and alcohol, and offer various alternatives. To be appropriate for the program, a youth must be too young or inexperienced in usage to be with other youths in the MIP II class. This must be the youth’s first drug or alcohol offense, and he or she must never have attended an MIP class before. Youths must also show no indication of an alcohol or drug problem and must never have been referred for treatment, pre-treatment, or drug/alcohol evaluation in the past.
The MIP I class is conducted either on an individual basis or with a small number of youths (one to four participants).
Minor in Possession: Level II
This program, administered by the Bismarck Police Department Youth Bureau as a second-level initiative, is designed as an education, awareness, and pre-evaluation program for juvenile offenders and violators of school policy. The program addresses drug and alcohol use, the progression of substance abuse to dependency and addiction, and pre-evaluation. Topics include DUI laws, alcohol content of drinks, BACs, tolerance issues, and the physical effects of alcohol on the body.
A youth is viewed as being appropriate for the program if he or she has a previous alcohol or drug offense but has not attended an MIP II class before. Youths are eligible if they have attended an MIP I class and there are no further recommendations for pre-treatment, a drug/alcohol evaluation, or treatment. Youths are also deemed appropriate if they have received a drug/alcohol evaluation that recommends an educational program. Youths are not appropriate for this class if a previous alcohol or drug evaluation recommended treatment (regardless of whether the family followed through with the treatment); if lack of parental concern or funds kept them out of treatment; or if they have attended the MIP II class, pre-treatment, or treatment in the past.
This uniquely placed treatment program gives juveniles an opportunity to look at their personal involvement with alcohol or drugs. Most discover they are not alone in their present situation. In this program offenders are forced to confront their actions, make decisions, and plan for the future.
Summaries of the youths’ class participation, concerns, and recommendations are provided to the referral source upon completion of either MIP class. These recommendations can range from “no follow-up necessary” to “recommend drug/alcohol evaluation.”
Both the MIP I and MIP II programs recognize that the family plays a vital role in changing the child’s behavior. Bismarck officials emphasize this important ingredient in the program’s foundation by inviting the parents of affected youths to participate in the program.
Y.E.S. Program (Youth Enhancement Skills)
The Youth Enhancement Skills Program, operating in Albany County, New York, is a two week/six-session adventure-based education program for youths aged 13-17 referred by the court system as “high risk.” Y.E.S. is designed to work with youths, including first-time DUI offenders, who are at risk of becoming seriously involved in the court system. Juvenile offenders attend a victim impact panel sponsored by Albany’s STOP-DWI program to heighten their awareness of the relationship between irresponsible behavior and negative consequences. The Y.E.S. Program’s educational activities help juveniles examine the behaviors and factors that led to their involvement in the court system, take personal responsibility for their behavior, and make appropriate decisions for their future. Other components are interactive and hands on and challenge the youths physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Group discussions are a key component. In addition, the program screens youths for possible substance abuse and mental health problems and makes recommendations for referral.
Youthful Drunk Driving (YDD) Program
The Tulsa Community Service Council applied for and received a grant from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office to develop and implement the Youthful Drunk Driving Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Modeled after a similar program in Orange County, California, this comprehensive approach utilizes a variety of community resources, including the Tulsa Police Department, Tulsa County District Court, the District Attorney’s Office, MADD, and several area medical and rehabilitation centers. The program’s goal is to confront first-time DUI offenders aged 16-25 with powerful, real-life experiences about the traumatic consequences of drinking and driving.
When ordered by the court, participants must complete the following elements:
- Emergency room visit—Participants spend several hours in the emergency room of a local medical center to observe the treatment of patients during this time, especially any alcohol-related trauma. An alternative is an emergency room trauma presentation conducted by the hospital emergency services staff.
- Rehabilitation center visit—Participants spend two hours at a hospital rehabilitation center specializing in the rehabilitation of patients suffering from severe spinal cord or neurological injuries to observe and participate in a patient therapy session.
- Victim impact panel—Participants attend a MADD victim impact panel where surviving family members recount the effects of drunk driving on their families.
- Alcohol education/counseling session—The youths attend a small group session with other participants to discuss their program experiences, evaluate their personal behavior, learn about substance abuse, and obtain referral information.
- Essay—Participants write a 1,000-word essay for the court relating their experiences and reactions to the YDD Program.
Implemented in November 1994, the YDD Program has achieved outstanding results in a short time. After two years, a total of 328 youths referred by the court had completed the orientation for the YDD Program. By November 1996, only four participants had been re-arrested for a drinking and driving violation, a recidivism rate of 1.2 percent, as compared with the national DUI re-arrest rate of approximately 30 percent.