Sentencing and Dispositions Of Youth DUI And Other Alcohol Offenses: A Guide For Judges And Prosecutors NHTSA People Saving People Logo, www.nhtsa.dot.gov
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

II. THE FACTS

III. THE LAWS

IV. THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

V. DISPOSITIONS AND SENTENCES

VI. MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT

VII. RECORDING, SHARING, AND USING INFORMATION PERTAINING TO ALCOHOL OFFENSES AMONG YOUTH

VIII. ADMINISTRATIVE AND COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DUI: THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM

IX. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POLICY AND RESEARCH

X. REFERENCES

XI. RESOURCES

V. Dispositions And Sentences


This chapter describes sanctions for youthful offenders designed to protect the public, hold the offender accountable to the victim and/or community, and provide education or treatment services for the offender. Research into the effectiveness of sanctions is included whenever such research is available.


The Balanced Approach to Sentencing
Any sentence or disposition should seek to (1) protect the public, (2) hold the offender accountable to the victim and/or community, and (3) provide education or treatment for the offender. A combination of sanctions is needed to fulfill these three goals concurrently. Research among adult DUI offenders suggests that a combination of punitive and rehabilitative sanctions, with followup to monitor compliance, is more effective than any single approach (Wells-Parker et al. 1995).

Although the sanctions described in this chapter are grouped according to the goals mentioned above, some sanctions may fulfill more than one objective. All sanctions contain the element of punishment because they are mandatory, and all are intended to deter future offenses. Research on the effectiveness of the sanctions is presented when such research is available. In many cases, the sanctions have been evaluated among adults, but not specifically among youth.

Protecting the Public
A first goal of sentencing is to reduce the risk that the offender poses to the public. Sanctions that protect the public vary in the degree of restriction they impose. Before imposing sanctions, it is important for the court to be aware of any administrative restrictions that may already be imposed on the offender.

Incarceration
Over the past 15 years, most States have adopted some form of mandatory incarceration for impaired driving. The effects of these laws have been hotly debated, and the evidence from studies of incarceration as a specific and general deterrent to DUI is mixed. Some studies among adults suggest that, as a specific deterrent, incarceration is no more effective in reducing DUI recidivism among either first-time or repeat offenders than other sanctions (Hagen 1978; Homel 1981; Salzberg and Paulsrude 1984; Jones et al. 1988; Mann et al. 1991; Ross 1991; Martin et al. 1993). Other studies have found that the use of 2-day jail sentences for first-time offenders has a general deterrent effect and that the short-term effect of incarceration as a general deterrent depends on the extent of public awareness of the risk of incarceration (Falkowski 1984; Jones et al. 1988; Zador et al. 1988). Mandatory incarceration, however, may have a negative impact on court operations and the correctional process by increasing the demand for jury trials, plea negotiations, and jail crowding (NHTSA 1986b; Voas and Lacey 1990). This can result in unanticipated slowing of the time it takes for cases to be processed and result in inconsistency of sanctions imposed upon similarly situated offenders. While further study is needed concerning the deterrent effects of incarceration on DUI offenders, State legislatures have the authority to impose mandatory incarceration for DUI offenders.

As stipulated in Section 223(a)(14) of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, with limited exceptions, alleged and adjudicated delinquent juveniles cannot be held in adult jails or lockups. Separate facilities should be available for holding delinquent juveniles during processing, detention, and any post-adjudication confinement. It is permissible, however, under the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Formula Grants regulation (28 CFR Part 31) to place an alleged delinquent juvenile in an adult jail or lockup (provided there is no sight or sound contact with any adult inmates in the facility) for up to 6 hours, including both before and after a court appearance. Regarding juvenile status offenders (e.g., underage alcohol purchase, possession, or consumption), the current Formula Grants regulation provides that participating states may securely hold such a juvenile in a juvenile detention facility for up to 24 hours, exclusive of weekends and legal holidays (28 CFR Part 31).

Out-of-home placement
Juveniles may be placed in facilities outside the home because of concern for the public safety or to foster the offender's rehabilitation. A range of residential facilities exist, which vary in terms of the degree to which they restrict offenders and the rehabilitative services they provide. Such facilities include group homes, residential treatment centers, youth ranches, and secure facilities. In 1994, 11 percent of the juveniles adjudicated for DUI were placed in some type of facility outside the home (Snyder 1997b).

Weekend intervention
Weekend intervention programs (WIPs) protect the public safety by requiring DUI offenders to attend a residential weekend program. These programs also provide screening and assessment for alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse. WIPs do not provide the treatment, but refer the offender to community treatment programs. An evaluation of a WIP at Wright State University in Dayton, OH, found that repeat adult DUI offenders assigned to the WIP had lower recidivism rates than repeat offenders given jail sentences or suspended sentences and fines (Siegal 1985). In addition, first offenders assigned to the WIP and ordered by the court to comply with treatment recommendations had lower recidivism rates than other first offenders. The effectiveness of WIPs specifically for youth has not been studied.

Probation
Probation is a sanction in which a number of conditions can be ordered by the court and monitored by a probation department. Probation may serve to protect the public, hold the offender accountable to the victim or community, and provide education or treatment services for the offender. Judges have wide-ranging power to impose conditions of probation, as long as the conditions are reasonably related to the protection of the public, the offense committed, and the treatment of the probationer.

Probation conditions for youthful offenders charged with underage drinking and/or impaired driving may include:

  • restricting access to or use of an automobile (State v. Cooper 282 S.E. 2d 436 [N.C. 1981]; Cohen and Gobert 1983, 6.25);
  • forbidding the use of alcohol or illegal drugs (People v. Whittington, 409 N.E. 2d 150 [Ill. App. 1980] prohibiting smoking, using, or ingesting any controlled substance);
  • limiting access to certain places and association with certain persons (see generally Annot. 99 ALR 3d 967 [1980]; People v. Deskins 376 N.E. 2d 1086 [Ill. App. 1978]) and prohibiting the frequenting of places where alcoholic beverages are available (State v. Donovan, 568 P. 2d 1107 [Ariz. App. 1977]);l mandating participation in educational, medical, or counseling programs, including residential programs (People v. Bray, 258 N.W. 2d 220 [Mich App. 1977]);
  • submitting to searches (State v. McCoy, 263 S.E. 2d 801 [N.C. App. 1980]);
  • submitting to questioning and giving information about others (U.S. v. Worcester, 190 F. Supp. 548, 568 [D. Mass. 1960]; Roberts v. U.S., 445 U.S. 552, 557 [1980]; and Douglas v. State, 376 So. 2d 11 [Fla. App. 1979] holding that a probationer could be questioned about his residency, job, and other noncriminal conduct, but was entitled to invoke the fifth amendment when questioned about new criminal conduct);
  • obtaining permission before traveling (Berrigan v. Sigler, 499 F. 2d 514 [D.C. Cir. App. 1974]; Johnson v. Sate, 291 S.E. 2d 94 [Ga. 1982]);
  • conforming to a curfew (Cohen and Gobert 1983, 6.21 p. 259);
  • attending school, obtaining employment, and/or requiring attendance at an alcohol abuse education course (State v. Muggins, 222 N.W. 2d 289 [Neb. 1974] requiring attendance at alcohol abuse education course; also, Model Penal Code 301.1);
  • providing samples for blood or urine testing (State v. McCoy, 263 2d 801 [N.C. App. 1980]); and
  • other special conditions set by the court.

In 1994, 68 percent of the juveniles adjudicated for DUI were ordered to a term of probation (Snyder 1997b). Probation conditions also were imposed on 32 percent of non-adjudicated DUI offenders and 27 percent of informally handled juvenile DUI offenders. In some states, the court may impose conditions of probation on the parents of juvenile offenders, thereby making the parents responsible and answerable to the court for the conduct of the youth (Torbet 1993).

A Probation Enhancement Program In Detroit, Michigan

Many courts lack the resources to provide adequate probation services. Partners Against Crime (PAC) is an innovative probation enhancement program operated by Volunteers in Prevention, Probation and Prisons, Inc. (VIP), a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing crime through volunteer efforts. PAC works with the juvenile court in the city of Detroit to help keep juveniles from becoming repeat offenders. PAC matches trained volunteers from the community to serve as mentors to juvenile offenders. The program expects parental involvement, and this is required for a juvenile to successfully complete probation.

A 1995 study by Wayne State University investigated the impact of PAC on recidivism, compliance with court orders, and attitude change. On two out of three outcome measures, recidivism and compliance with court orders, the data consistently indicated that PAC participants performed better than probationers in the control group, and much better than those who refused to participate in the PAC program (Martin 1995). See the Resources section for program information.

Variations of probation for youthful offenders include the following:

Intensive Probation
Intensive probation requires probationers to have more frequent contact with a probation officer, and the probationer's activity is more restricted, than is the case with traditional probation. An offender on intensive probation may be required to contact his or her probation officer at least twice a week and may be subject to home curfews or home confinement (possibly with the use of electronic monitoring) and unannounced visits (Harding et al. 1989; Transportation Research Board 1995). One intensive probation program for repeat adult DUI offenders found that recidivism after one year for program participants was 5.6 percent, compared with 10.7 percent for offenders given traditional sanctions such as jail time, license suspension, and fines (Jones et al. 1996). No data are available on the effectiveness of intensive probation among youthful repeat DUI offenders.

Home Detention
This approach allows a probationer to drive during the day to attend work, school, or treatment, but prohibits driving at night, when most impaired driving occurs. Home detention may be enforced by electronic monitoring. No data have been published on the effectiveness of this sanction for alcohol-related offenses among youthful offenders.

Electronic Home Monitoring.
To enforce probation or home detention, an offender may be ordered to wear an electronic device that verifies that he or she remains at home, except when excused to attend school, work, or treatment. Justice system professionals debate the effectiveness of such systems, but agree that alone, this option is insufficient. To be successful, electronic home monitoring must be combined with other sanctions or treatment (Schonberg 1993). In a 7-year study among adult DUI offenders who were electronically monitored over 2–3 months while on probation, recidivism was less than 3 percent. However, recidivism increased after the monitoring period (Lilly et al. 1993). An evaluation of the Los Angeles County Electronic Monitoring/Home Detention program for repeat nonviolent adult DUI offenders found that the recidivism rate for program participants after one year was about one-third less than that of offenders who did not participate (Jones et al. 1996). The effectiveness of electronic home monitoring on reducing recidivism for DUI among youth has not been evaluated.

License Suspension/Revocation
Protecting the public has traditionally been achieved primarily by license suspension, which temporarily invalidates a driver's license, and license revocation, which requires the licensee to apply for a new license after a specified length of time. Because a driver's license is an especially prized possession for young people, license suspension and revocation are thought to be powerful deterrents to underage drinking and impaired driving. To have a driver's license restored following either type of action, an offender may have to notify his or her insurance company of the charge, resulting in increased insurance rates. Some states also charge license reinstatement fees.

Studies of license actions among adults demonstrate the effectiveness of these approaches for reducing recidivism and the risk of crash involvement among drinking drivers. Research has found the following:

  • Suspension periods between 12 and 18 months appear to be optimal for reducing DUI recidivism among adults, while suspension periods of less than 3 months seem to be ineffective (Homel 1981). Research on the optimum period of license suspension and revocation among youth is unavailable.
  • Although up to 75 percent of adult offenders continue to drive under license suspension, they appear to drive less frequently and more cautiously to avoid apprehension (Ross and Gonzales 1988; Nichols and Ross 1990; Ross 1991; Simpson and Mayhew 1991). It is not certain that youth behave in the same fashion.

License revocation and suspension may be imposed by a judge as part of a DUI or other sentence or imposed administratively by a State driver licensing agency. The latter disposition is discussed in Chapter 8.

Vehicle-Related Sanctions
In an attempt to reduce the large percentage of drivers who continue to drive after license suspension, some States control the suspended driver through vehicle sanctions. These sanctions, including the installation of breath alcohol ignition interlocks, vehicle immobilization, vehicle impoundment, and vehicle forfeiture, can be applied administratively by the court, depending on State statutes. The administrative application of these sanctions is discussed in Chapter 8.

While these sanctions have not been evaluated among youthful offenders, they have been found to be promising for reducing recidivism among adults, both during the period of incapacitation and after the vehicle is released (Crosby 1995; DeYoung 1997; Voas et al. 1997b; Beirness et al. 1997; Voas et al. in press). The effectiveness of these sanctions for protecting the public can be compromised if the offender finds a way to circumvent the device, or if the offender simply borrows, rents, or steals a different vehicle (EMT Group 1990; Jacobs 1990; Baker and Beck 1991; Popkin et al. 1992). In addition, the court may be unable to apply such sanctions to a youthful offender arrested while driving a car registered to his or her parents or any other person. The parents of a juvenile, however, can be subject to vehicle-related sanctions as a consequence of their child's offense.

Accountability to the Victim and Community
Ensuring that illegal acts have consequences and that offenders take responsibility for their actions is a major feature of the judicial function and one that oftenat least in drinking and driving casesresults in criticism of the court. Accountability is based on the recognition that, when an offense occurs, the offender incurs an obligation to the victim or, in such cases where no specific victim exists, to the community. Accountability-based sanctions, therefore, require offenders to acknowledge the impact of their behavior on the victim and/or community and work actively to make things right. Community organizations often work with the court to organize and manage community service projects and other accountability-based programs. These functions of community groups are discussed further in Chapter 8.

Community service
Offenders may be held accountable for the harm they have caused by providing some service that benefits the community. Just as communities are harmed by offenses, they can be at least partially restored by meaningful service that contributes to their improvement. In addition, because limited jail space has placed a great deal of pressure on the courts to avoid jail sentences for DUI offenders, community service has been used as an alternative to incarceration. As of January 1996, 22 States specifically provided for community service in lieu of mandatory confinement, and this is an option under the probation powers of most courts. National studies by Klein (1989) and Zador and colleagues (1988) found that States that mandated either jail or community service for first-time DUI offenders had lower alcohol-related fatality rates following the adoption of the laws mandating such a sentence. Other studies have failed to find any significant effects of community service on recidivism or crashes among adult DUI offenders (Stenzel et al. 1987; Popkin and Wells-Parker 1994), and the effect of community service on recidivism has not been evaluated among youthful offenders.

Studies supported by NHTSA (1985) have demonstrated that well-run community service programs may produce considerable savings in jail expenses, in addition to the dollar value of the services to the community. Because the objective of a community service program is to hold the offender accountable by compensating the community, such programs are useful for the court even if reduced recidivism is not demonstrated. A well- run community service program may offer constructive work and potentially valuable educational experiences (e.g., working in emergency departments, speaking in schools) to young offenders. The court may receive considerable praise from local citizens if it produces highly visible benefits to the community.

Restitution
Restitution is a sanction that holds offenders accountable for the financial losses they have caused their victims. The restitution payment is the sum of money paid by the offender to the victim to balance this monetary debt. Receiving a restitution payment can make victims feel that the justice system is working on their behalf to ensure they are justly compensated for their losses. Restitution orders are based on information provided by victims about their out-of-pocket losses and information about offenders' financial status and earning capacity. Parents of juveniles may be ordered to pay restitution when the juvenile cannot. A study of a restitution program used in the Utah juvenile court system found that youth were ordered to pay restitution in cases of robbery, assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and vandalism had lower recidivism than a comparison group (Butts and Snyder 1992).

Victim-Offender Mediation
Victim-offender mediation provides victims the opportunity to meet the offender face-to-face in a safe and structured setting, along with a trained mediator and perhaps a family member or friend for each of them. Such programs usually are operated by private, nonprofit community organizations. During the mediation session, victims tell the offender about the physical, emotional, and financial impact the offense caused them; ask questions about the offense and the offender; and negotiate a form of restitution. A multisite study of 1,131 victim-offender mediations involving juvenile offenders found that the recidivism rate was lower among offenders who participated in mediation (18 percent), compared with similar offenders who did not meet their victims (27 percent) (Umbreit 1994).

Attendance at Victim Impact Panels (VIPs)
These forums, often sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), provide a less direct means than victim-offender mediation of acquainting offenders with the harm they have caused. In some jurisdictions, victim impact panels are being organized to include youthful victims in an effort to make them more meaningful to young offenders. One study of victim impact panels suggested that, among adults, participation did not consistently reduce DUI recidivism rates compared with controls (Shinar and Compton 1995). Another study, however, found that particiation in a VIP significantly reduced the probability of an offender being rearrested (Fors and Rojek in press). The effectiveness of this sanction among youthful offenders has not been studied.

Fines
Youthful offenders may be fined for violations of the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws and/or impaired driving laws. An offender may receive a fine in the form of a citation issued by the arresting police officer or as a court-ordered sanction. Fines vary in amount and may increase with repeat offenses. Some States have minimum mandatory fines, and courts may also impose surcharges or fees for alcohol-related offenses. Although they have not been evaluated specifically among youth, an Australian study found that fines were effective in reducing recidivism among adult DUI offenders (Homel 1979, 1981; Nichols and Ross 1989).

Emergency department visitation
This sanction requires offenders to spend a certain number of hours observing the medical treatment of patients in the emergency department or shock trauma unit of a local hospital. The visitation may be scheduled for a weekend night, when patients are likely to be victims of alcohol-related crashes. Data are forthcoming on the effectiveness of this sanction among youth. Additionally, NHTSA has an ongoing grant with the Corrective Behavior Institute to replicate this program in various locations throughout the country (Police Executive Research Forum, in press).

Emergency Department Visitation In Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Youthful Drunk Driving Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma requires first-time DUI offenders ages 16–25 to visit an emergency department and a rehabilitation center for patients with spinal cord injuries, attend a victim impact panel presentation and a small group alcohol counseling session, and write an essay about their experiences in the program. After 2 years of operation, 328 people have completed the program and only 4 participants have been rearrested for DUI, a recidivism rate of 1.2 percent, compared to the national DUI re-arrest rate of approximately 30 percent (Police Executive Research Forum, in press).

Providing Education and AOD Abuse Treatment Services for the Offender
Drinking and driving programs established by the U.S. Department of Transportation in the late 1960's focused on deterring the problem drinker by encouraging courts to establish relationships with local treatment providers to handle cases of drivers determined to have an alcohol problem. Due to this Federal support for including alcohol rehabilitation in the sentencing of impaired driving offenders, alcohol education and treatment paid for by the DUI offenders has become a ubiquitous feature of most traffic court probation systems.

While some States have legislated a requirement for completing a treatment program as a condition of license restoration, most DUI offenders are persuaded to accept treatment under the terms of their probation program. Thus the courts, as the result of the historic development of the Federal Alcohol Safety Action Projects (ASAPs) in the 1970's, tend to provide the principal incentive for moving DUI offenders into treatment. This role requires the court to take responsibility for providing for the screening and, if required, the assessment of DUI offenders, as discussed in chapter 4. Furthermore, with the exception of States such as Maryland that have provided for State-funded monitors, the court probation officers are responsible for overseeing the treatment monitoring.

Screening and assessment can help the court to identify the level of services that each offender needs (i.e., education or varying intensities of treatment) and to develop a plan for providing such services (McLellan and Dembo 1993). Varying levels of services are discussed below, as well as certain issues relating to the provision of services.

Education
Even if screening indicates that an offender has no AOD problem, the court may consider ordering participation in an AOD education program. Generally, these programs inform participants about the effects of alcohol on the body and on driving performance, and about the legal consequences of underage drinking and impaired driving. Some but not all jurisdictions offer youth-specific education programs. Most education programs last from 2 to 6 weeks and consist of 10–16 hours of classroom time (Popkin 1994).

AOD education programs for youthful offenders are most effective if they are developmentally appropriate for young people (Acoca 1995). For instance, youth are more likely to respond to visual depictions of real-life consequences of impaired driving than to statistics (NHTSA and the Transportation Safety Institute [TSI] 1997). Young drivers are influenced by the negative consequencessuch as death, injuries, inconvenience, and embarrassmentthat can result from impaired driving. Youth also tend to relate more to sincere presenters giving freely of their time than to celebrities being paid or fulfilling a community service (NHTSA and TSI 1997).

Research among adult DUI offenders suggests that the combination of education and license suspension is more effective in reducing recidivism than license suspension alone (Popkin et al. 1988). Although education programs have been found effective for both first offenders and those characterized as nonproblem drinkers, such programs appear to have little or no value for repeat offenders or problem drinkers (Nichols 1990).

Referral to Treatment
Offenders found to have an AOD problem require a more intensive and longer lasting intervention than education alone. It is important that judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and other justice system staff be trained in the effects of AOD abuse, knowledgeable about issues surrounding AOD treatment, and familiar with the basic treatment approaches appropriate for youth (Schonberg 1993; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges [NCJFCJ] 1995). Before the adjudicatory hearing, the judge should be notified of the results of assessment and recommendations for treatment so that he or she can mandate treatment as early as possible (Schonberg 1993). For cases involving juveniles, the judge has the authority to order the juvenile's parents and other appropriate family members to participate in treatment (NCJFCJ 1995).

What the Courts Should Ask Treatment Providers
The courts should be familiar with the treatment provider(s) in their jurisdictions and seek answers to the following questions about program credentials, service delivery, finances, and problem resolution. Answers to these questions may help the court decide where to refer a youthful offender for AOD treatment. For those addicted to other drugs, a different approach may be needed (Acoca 1995).

The court may not always have a wide range of local treatment programs from which to choose. However, when choices are available, the answers to the questions listed here may help judges and prosecutors decide which program may be best for the youthful offender. At the very least, answers to these questions will let the court know what to expect from the treatment program and will provide the court with benchmarks by which to select programs.

Questions About The AOD Service Delivery
  • How much time usually elapses between an offender being ordered into treatment and the treatment actually beginning?
  • What percentage of court referrals reported to treatment?
  • What percent completed the program during a specified period of time?
  • How long is the program?
  • Is there any method of following up on your clients after they have completed treatment?
  • If so, are there any data on the extent to which clients have maintained sobriety and avoided rearrest for DUI?
  • Do all clients receive the same treatment program or are there different treatment tracks based on an initial assessment?
  • How are DUI offenders who have an AOD abuse problem beyond an alcohol problem handled?
  • Is abstinence required during treatment? Are clients tested for alcohol when they report for treatment?
  • Are random tests for drugs conducted?
  • Does the program encourage attendance at AA meetings or other support groups?
  • Does treatment address underlying family problems?
  • Address personal problems?
  • What provisions, if any, are there for family participation?
  • What are the criteria for entry, expulsion, and completion?

Questions To Ask About AOD Treatment Program Credentials
  • Is the program certified by the state or other accrediting organization?
  • What arrangements exist for clients in need of medical treatment?
  • What are the professional qualifications of the staff?
  • Is the organization insured?
  • What does the insurance cover?
  • Does the insurance cover injuries to clients on premises?

Questions About Finances
  • What is the cost to the client for treatment?
  • When is payment required? Are considerations made for those who are unable to pay?
  • Is the program covered under a health maintenance organization (HMO) or insurance health care provider?

Questions About How Agencies Respond To Problems
  • What consequences are imposed when an offender fails to pay fees, fails to attend treatment sessions, exhibits disruptive behavior, refuses to actively participate, or exhibits evidence of alcohol or other drug use during treatment?
  • When is the court/prosecutor/probation informed of the above situations?
  • What actions are recommended?
  • Will the youth be readmitted to the program?
  • What action is expected of the court when an offender is reported for failing to complete treatment?

Treatment Approaches. Although a variety of approaches are available for treating youth for AOD problems, research into their effectiveness is limited. Research has not demonstrated the superiority of a particular treatment approach for youth over any other, but several studies have noted the benefits of treatment in general, compared with no treatment (Windle et al. 1996). Treatment approaches available to the court depend on the treatment facilities in the community.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Although AA is beneficial for many people, participation in AA should not substitute for AOD treatment. Rather, AA participation should accompany treatment and continue after treatment completion. Researchers have questioned the practice of requiring all DUI offenders to attend AA meetings and to make it the core of offenders' aftercare for two reasons. First, AA is not effective for all persons; second, AA spokespersons have expressed concern that court-mandated AA attendance may overwhelm meetings with people who are not motivated and are hostile and disruptive (Speiglman et al. 1992; Emrick et al. 1993; McCrady and Miller 1993). There are no AA chapters or organizations created specifically for youthful alcoholics; Alateen is an organization for children of alcoholics.

Treatment settings. Inpatient and outpatient treatment options provide varying levels of care for youth with AOD abuse problems. Outpatient settings are generally preferred because they allow the offender to remain in school and maintain family relationships, and they facilitate treatment for the family (McPhail and Wiest 1995). Research indicates that outpatient treatment is often as effective as inpatient treatment and that, furthermore, outpatient treatment is less costly (Winters et al. in press).

Relapse. Although relapse may occur during AOD abuse treatment and recovery, relapse does not indicate treatment failure. Episodes of relapse should diminish in frequency and severity over time (NCJFCJ 1995). When relapse occurs, it is important to note the occurrence on the individual's record and to provide for immediate action as a consequence. Research suggests that young people are especially vulnerable to relapse triggered by social pressure and that more severe relapse tends to occur early in the follow-up period. Youth with greater behavioral coping skills, and a greater number of non–substance-using social supports, tend to have the better outcomes (Winters et al. in press).

Financial considerations. Financial considerations may restrict the level of AOD abuse treatment that the court can order for a youthful offender. The court can order the parents of juveniles to pay for their child's treatment. Young adults can be required to pay for their own treatment, but may not have the financial resources to do so. When the offender or offender's parents cannot pay treatment costs, the court may consider reducing fines and other fees to make money available for treatment.

The provision of adequate and effective AOD abuse treatment ordered by the courts often is controlled by health insurance coverage limitations. Such limits may restrict the time frame for treatment, the type of treatment provided, and the reimbursable costs. Courts may find that limitations by health insurance providers frequently inhibit the selection of treatment options that may seem the most appropriate and effective. Judges and prosecutors can urge State insurance commissions and State legislatures to consider requiring health insurers to pay for the court-ordered AOD abuse treatment of insured adults and their dependents. The NCJFCJ recommends that health insurance companies provide coverage for a broad range of services for AOD-abusing youth and families (NCJFCJ 1995).

If the offender or family is unable to pay for AOD abuse treatment and there is no health insurance coverage available, courts may place offenders in public sector treatment programs. However, changes in the way such programs are funded may make such placements increasingly difficult. Many States are transferring the administration of funds used previously to support public sector treatment providers to managed care organizations. It is important for the courts to understand the State's structure for managed care and to ensure that court-ordered treatment efforts are compatible with that structure.

Community resources for youth services. Ideally, a full continuum of services, including AOD education, treatment, and aftercare, would be available in every community (NCJFCJ 1995). Many communities do not have the resources to offer a range of youth services, however. It is important that judges and prosecutors be familiar with existing community services and programs that serve youth, and that prosecutors use their authority and status in the community to advocate for the development of supplemental services and programs as needed (NCJFCJ 1995).

Increasing the Severity of Sanctions
An important role of the court is to order increasingly severe sanctions when an offender fails to respond to initial and subsequent interventions. For example, immediate sanctions such as fines, probation, community service, restitution, and education may be appropriate for first-time offenders and for alcohol-related repeat offenses other than DUI. Intermediate sanctions, such as intensive probation, home monitoring, or AOD abuse treatment may be appropriate for offenders who have failed to respond to immediate sanctions. Placement in more secure facilities, such as training schools, camps, and ranches, may be necessary for youth whose presence in the community would constitute a threat to public safety, or for youth who have failed to respond to community-based corrections (Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 1996).

Parent/Guardian Involvement and Responsibility
The parents or guardians of juveniles can be held responsible, to some extent, for the offenses committed by their children. According to the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), effective parental responsibility laws should include parents in the judicial process and force them to fulfill their parental obligations (NDAA 1996). Specifically, the NDAA recommends that parents be required to:

  • attend all court proceedings, provided that their employers allow such attendance;
  • participate in rehabilitative programs with their children;
  • pay costs associated with the prosecution, placement, and treatment of their children, within appropriate limits, and subject to the ability to pay;
  • participate in court-ordered programs that require parental involvement;
  • participate in parenting skills classes when appropriate; and
  • take responsibility at some level, for restitution to victims, if any.

It is important that all sanctions involving parents be ordered in addition to, not instead of, appropriate sanctions for the juvenile (NDAA 1996). To encourage parental responsibility, parents need to be informed about the laws affecting their children, their responsibilities for ensuring that their children obey the laws, and the potential for them to be held responsible for their children's offenses, including those offenses that require access to the parents' car (Beer et al. 1996). Parents' roles in monitoring their children's compliance with sanctions are discussed further in Chapter 6.