Charles County citizens are invited to attend a planning meeting May 11 regarding the establishment of a juvenile drug court program, similar to the Charles County Sheriff's Office's Teen Court program. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium at the Charles County Government Building, located at 200 Baltimore Street in La Plata.
The goal of the proposed juvenile drug court program is to intervene early when young men and women make the dangerous and destructive decision to use drugs. The program is based on the principles of the Teen Court Program, which for the past four years has successfully diverted first-time misdemeanor criminal and minor traffic offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 from formal criminal justice system.
The juvenile drug court process would involve four phases, each with incentives and sanctions. A youth accepted into the program must successfully complete each phase and each participant must be an active willing, since actions such as a positive drug test or not attending substance abuse counseling could result in the youth being returned to a lower phase. For each youth participant, the program could last between nine months and more than a year. The juvenile drug court would not accept violent or sexual offenders or those who have been adjudicated with a drug distribution offense. The program provides participants the opportunity to get critical treatment while avoiding a criminal record.
For the program to be successful, the Sheriff's Office and other participating agencies would rely heavily on community-based services, including adult mentors, youth training programs, rehabilitation and counseling service, community service opportunities and educational material preparation.
For more information about the program, call Maryellen Kraese, Charles County Teen Court coordinator, at 301-609-3916.