Stopping the Revolving Door: Advances in Juvenile Justice in the National Drug Control Strategy

adolescent-substance-abuse-juvenile-justice_staircaseEliminating the revolving door of the criminal and juvenile justice systems is one of the Nation’s biggest challenges in reducing the devastating consequences of drug use. It deprives our youngest generations of their chance to lead healthy, safe and productive lives, and often fosters intergenerational violence. That’s why the Obama Administration is taking steps to prevent young people from becoming involved in drug use and crime, and providing intervention, treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and reentry support for those that do.
Last year, the Administration released its inaugural strategy for coordinating national drug control activities and reducing the effects of drug use and its consequences and stressed the need for effective substance abuse treatment for adolescents. The week before last, the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy built upon that foundation and expanded support for these efforts. Evidence-based, early interventions are critical tools to keep young people from cycling in and out of the juvenile justice system, or worse, entering and cycling through the adult system. Youth should not only be screened and treated for substance use problems, but also for unmet emotional, behavioral, or academic needs.

The Reclaiming Futures effort, a collaborative partnership, sets out an effective model that builds the capacity of state, local, and tribal leaders to develop effective interventions within the juvenile court system. It brings best practices and advances system change that is necessary to appropriately address drug-involved juvenile offenders. In addition to supporting this effort, the Administration, through the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is also helping enhance juvenile courts’ capacity through the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referrals to Treatment (SBIRT) program, which helps identify the most appropriate referrals and admissions criteria for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
Finally, through the Second Chance Act, the Administration is expanding mentoring and other support services for juvenile offenders during their confinement, through transition back to the community, and post-release. These important services are intended to lower the risks of recidivism and improve the outcomes of our juvenile justice system.
We know that these actions, along with partnerships with Reclaiming Futures and all of our stakeholders, are critical for the Administration’s balanced national approach that draws upon prevention, treatment, recovery support, law enforcement, and innovations in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Preventing drug use before it begins is a cost-effective, common-sense approach to promoting safe and healthy communities. We must prioritize positive youth development by connecting state and local juvenile justice, public health and behavioral health systems, school districts, youth job training entities, and other youth services organizations. All these efforts can help young people avoid the pitfalls of drug use and crime, and offer them the positive opportunities they deserve.

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_R-Gil-KerlkowskeR. Gil Kerlikowske was sworn in as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy on May 7, 2009. He brings nearly four decades of law enforcement and drug policy experience to the position, most recently serving 9 years as the Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department. When he left, crime in Seattle was at its lowest point in 40 years. He previously served as deputy director for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Photo at top: Paolo Margari, under a Creative Commons license.

Updated: February 08 2018