Juvenile Drug Court Planning Committee
Radisson Inn, Fargo
September 8, 2000
Justice Mary Muehlen Maring, Chair
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as distributed.
Justice Maring called on Mary Hall to report on the East Central district pilot site. Mary Hall reported that there were eight individuals in the program. The team is struggling with one individual who has a dual diagnosis and is oppostionally defiant. The team questions whether dual diagnosis individuals are appropriate for the team. On one hand, the mental health issues may not be able to be addressed until the alcohol/drug abuse issues are addressed, however the mental health issues may overwhelm the abuse issues. She also reported that two juveniles had been refused entry and were returned to the regular program.
Melody Peterson stated that, while in Minneapolis the team had identified the need to address drug screening protocols, and to better define a target population.
Deb Carlson-Hadland reported that the Northeast Central district had 14 juveniles, one was at the Youth Correctional Center for an evaluation. She reported that they did not have a coordinator at this time, however they have hired a law enforcement officer on a hourly basis to do random testing. She and Judge Kleven reported that their biggest problem is with kids whose parents are abusive.
Judge Erickson offered that this is a national problem and that family therapy aimed at substance abuse issues is needed as part of the program. Melody Peterson stated that these families will participate if the focus is not on the parent. Judge Erickson agreed, however making the parents the focus always brings up the issue of what are the consequences for parents for not participating.
Mary Hall stated that at times the parental support will not happen and the court will need to deal with the kids as individuals. At times the only thing that can be done is to find someone else to serve as an adult figure. Steve Mottinger pointed out that the tracker sometimes fills that role.
Judge Kleven stated that one of the areas that needed to be addressed was payment to indigent defense counsel. Contracts do not cover attendance at drug court and defense counsel should not be expected to continue to donate their time.
Justice Maring then called on Kevin Thompson who handed out a statistical profile of the participants in the program. The statistics showed that there had been 25 participants in the program - 16 male and 9 female, the average age was 16.2 years. On average, the juveniles had 5.5 prior referrals.
Dr. Thompson explained that a control group had been established in the South Central District. The district had identified individuals who met the selection criteria for inclusion in the contract group.
Justice Maring opened the discussion of inclusion of law enforcement in the drug court program. The East Central district reported they had met with the chiefs of police from Fargo and West Fargo, as well as the sheriff. They felt that law enforcement was on board, though there might need to be more work with line officers. Mary Hall explained that a couple of the participants had worked with the juvenile court in manning its booth at National Safe Night Out.
The Northeast Central district explained that they too had met with police and the sheriff. The also explained that their school resource officers attend juvenile court staffing each week and were very familiar with the drug court.
Melody Peterson suggested that the highway patrol needed to be included. Justice Maring echoed that the highway patrol was also a potential source of funds for the pilot site.
The Committee then discussed involvement of the education community in the pilot sites. It was the consensus of the committee that the schools were involved adequately with the inclusion of members on the local teams.
Justice Maring then informed the Committee that a letter requesting technical assistance had been sent to the American University. She had identified needs in the areas of rewards and sanctions, team work, and identifying the target population. She will keep the members informed as to the response to the letter.
Justice Maring then opened discussion on incentives and sanctions. Judge Erickson expressed the need to develop sanctions that are different. He feels that all he can really do is assign more community service hours. He pointed out that research shows that sanctions such as detention and last chance alternatives such as removal from the program for violations do not seem to work. Further, some sanctions such as assigning reports or reading may be counter productive.
Committee members expressed the need to develop creative incentives, and the need for a coordinator to help in this area. Justice Maring stated that she is hopeful that the American University may be helpful in this area.
The Committee then discussed a parents' manual. It was agreed the manual should be a short description of the program, and should have sample forms that the parents will see. Justice Maring stated that it will be a priority when a state legal assistant is hired.
Justice Maring then reminded the Committee that the budget included attendance of some team members at the Drug Court Professional Training in January. She will not be able to attend, thus one more local team members can attend.
The Northeast Central district suggested that it might be better to use the money to bring the team together to work out local issues. Justice Maring responded that she hoped the American University would help in this area.
Justice Maring then informed the Committee that it appears the implementation grant had been denied, though no official announcement had been received. She is looking at other funds including general funds, juvenile accountability block grant dollars, and under age drinking dollars. She is confident she will be able to continue the project into the next biennium.
The members then discussed the role of the local drug court coordinator. Greg Wallace reported that after meeting with both pilot sites he felt the need was greatest in the area of administrative duties, such as getting incentives, accumulating reports , and keeping minutes of team meetings. He suggested that tracking, testing , and other probation duties should be secondary at this point. Those are duties that a coordinator might assume at a latter date. After discussion it was the consensus of the members to proceed with the administrative duties.
Justice Maring also informed the Committee that she had requested a change in the Byrne Grant to allow a visit to a mentor court and had identified Missoula. Members expressed some reservations about Missoula. Justice Maring will explore alternative action.
Having no further business, the meeting was adjourned.