Juvenile Drug Court
The West Virginia Juvenile Drug Court Program is a cooperative effort of the juvenile justice, social service, law enforcement, and education systems in the state. This program seeks to divert non-violent juvenile offenders exhibiting alcohol or substance abuse behavior from the traditional juvenile court process to an intensive, individualized treatment process. The goal is to reduce future court involvement for these youth.
On any given day in West Virginia, approximately 7,000 youths are under some form of court-ordered diversion program or supervision by a probation officer. Annual West Virginia juvenile probation reports demonstrate that controlled-substance violations are the third-largest category of offenses charged. This fact is the motivating reason behind the development of juvenile drug courts in West Virginia. In 1999, the first drug court in West Virginia was piloted in Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County) through U.S. Department of Justice grant funds and U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration treatment funds. This juvenile drug court operated on grant funding for approximately four years and was re-established in July of 2007. As of December 2011, West Virginia had ten juvenile drug courts located in Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County), Twenty-fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County), Seventh Judicial Circuit (Logan County), Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County), Twenty-fifth Judicial Circuit (Boone/Lincoln Counties), First Judicial Circuit (Brooke/Hancock Counties), Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County), Twenty-ninth Judicial Circuit (Putnam County), Twentieth Judicial Circuit (Randolph County), and Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wood County). Five more Juvenile Drug Courts are planned for 2012.
Juvenile Drug Courts are initiated through legislative funds, grant funds, and other funds made available to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Administrative Office. Counties selected for juvenile drug courts have demonstrated support from their county, including their circuit judges. They also have sufficient juvenile case loads and substance abuse indicator data to support the programs.