Juvenile Drug Court
The Juvenile Drug Court (JDC) promotes public safety by empowering minors and families to establish and maintain drug and crime free lifestyles. The target population are youth that are 14 years of age and older, nonviolent and with a history of moderate to severe substance abuse. JDC is a collaborative effort of the Juvenile Court, Probation Department, Public Defender's and District Attorney's Offices, County Alcohol Drug Mental Health Services (ADMHS), and community-based treatment service agencies.
JDC seeks to provide assessment, treatment, and case management services, and enhances the level of service to youth and families with substance abuse issues by providing increased judicial oversight and probation supervision, drug testing, sanctions, and treatment to break the cycle of substance abuse. Each JDC participant and family is assessed by a community-based organization and ADMHS. A treatment plan is developed based on the needs and strengths of the family. JDC Judges routinely review the cases and representatives from Probation, District Attorney, Public Defender, and the treatment provider are present at review hearings. Each case is discussed by the parties prior to the hearing to share information and determine appropriate courses of action. Based on these reports, a Judge may impose consequences for a negative report or provide rewards for a positive one. Consequences may include increased frequency of treatment, brief incarceration or a more restrictive curfew. Rewards include advancement to the next level of the program, praise, encouragement, and donated incentives.
JDC participants may be placed on six to 12 month treatment programs followed by up to three months of aftercare. Successful completion of the JDC program is celebrated with a graduation and, in some cases, the Court dismissing the charges that brought the youth before the Court.
Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA)
The Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act allocates funds annually to provide a continuum of responses to juvenile crime and delinquency. The JJCPA requires a collaborative approach for implementing a system of responses for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders, and requires the formation of a Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council that assists in the development and operation of programs funded by the act. The Probation Department currently expends the majority of JJCPA funds for two main programs: Early Intervention Officers and School-Based Officers. Santa Barbara County's current funding strategies include:
Early Intervention Program
An Early Intervention (EI) Officer is assigned to each main geographic area of the County and provides early intervention services to younger offenders with little or no history of involvement in the juvenile justice system. EI Officers attempt to steer these offenders away from further involvement in the juvenile justice system. EI Officers work with offenders and their family members in developing pro-social activities and attitudes, and closely monitor compliance with probation terms and conditions. Additionally, EI Officers may refer offenders to local counseling services to address the issues that contributed to an offender's delinquency or to mentoring programs that seek to address delinquency through individual and group interventions.
School-Based Officer Program
The Probation Department seeks to further address juvenile crime and delinquency by placing School-Based Officers (SBO) on certain local school campuses in an effort to positively impact school performance and attendance. The SBO's interact closely with school administrators and teaching staff, law enforcement officers, and all students. Currently, there are five SBOs funded by the JJCPA and each has a caseload of up to 30 offenders. SBO Officers may refer offenders to counseling services for a variety of needs.
Youthful Offender Block Grant Program
The Probation Department utilizes funds from the State's Youthful Offender Block Grant (YOBG) to provide close supervision for specified offenders and operate a long-term commitment program at the Juvenile Hall. The supervision component consists of a Deputy Probation Officer in each area office who maintains a caseload of juvenile offenders who are on probation for more serious crimes and have a history of delinquency, violence, or gang affiliation. Additionally, each caseload is supported by the services of full time mentors provided by a local community based organization. The mentors interact closely with offenders and their families and refer them to appropriate pro-social activities and services. The purpose of the YOBG is to enable local jurisdictions to use State funds to provide services and supervision to juvenile offenders who are no longer eligible to be committed to the State Division of Juvenile Facilities. The intent is to address delinquency and offer interventions at the local level where they have the greatest impact. The Probation Department also operates a commitment program where offenders who have demonstrated their risk to public safety may be detained for over a year while receiving services designed to negate further delinquency.
Restorative Justice Program
Restorative Justice (RJ) emphasizes the fundamental fact that crime damages people, communities, and relationships. If crime is about harm, then the justice process should emphasize repairing the harm. RJ builds on traditional positive community values and on effective sanctioning practices, including victim-offender mediation, reparative boards, family group conferencing, community service, restitution, victim and community impact statements, and victim awareness panels.
The Probation Department supports and participates on local RJ task forces to promote the development of policies and practices that will increase victim and community involvement for restoration, offender accountability and integration, and improved conflict resolution interventions.