To serve as ministers of justice in the fair and diligent prosecution of those charged with criminal offenses occurring in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, thereby preserving peace, safety and dignity for all citizens of this Circuit.
What is Richland County Juvenile Drug Court?
The Richland County Juvenile Drug Court is an alternative to the traditional court process for nonviolent juvenile offenders. It is a 9-12-month program that strives to help juvenile offenders stop their use of alcohol and other drugs, end their involvement in crime and improve their performance in school. After successfully completing the program, related charges against juvenile offenders are removed from their criminal records.
Who is Eligible for the Program?
Juvenile offenders who are being prosecuted for nonviolent crimes in the Fifth Circuit Family Court are eligible to participate in the program, if they:
- are residents of Richland County;
- have a history of using alcohol or other drugs (besides nicotine);
- have no history of violent behavior;
- have no history of incarceration in a long-term juvenile justice facility;
- meet other specific requirements.
What is Required of Participants?
Juvenile offenders are required to participate in the program for 9-12 months. During this time, participants must:
- Submit to random drug tests
- Attend family counseling sessions on a weekly basis
- Provide progress reports to the judge through weekly appearances in court
- Attend treatment sessions three times a week
Participants and their families will also receive a variety of “wraparound” services to address specific needs identified through the program. These services include: primary health care; tutoring and other educational or vocational assistance; mentoring specialized therapy; psychiatric and psychological counseling; and other types of assistance as needed.
In-home and in-school visits from staff are an important aspect of the program, as they help to gauge a participant’s progress. In addition, participants receive a number of sanctions and rewards as a way to promote productive behavior.
Sanctions Can Include:
- Community service
- House detention or detention in a facility
Rewards Can Include:
- Advancement in the program
- Verbal praise
The family court judge makes all decisions regarding the offender’s involvement in the program, including rewards, sanctions, advancement, commencement and expulsion. The judge also may reduce or increase weekly meetings and drug tests depending upon the participant’s performance and progress.
What is Required of the Family?
At least one parent or guardian of each juvenile offender must participate in the program with the offender. Parents and guardians are required to participate in family counseling sessions once a week and in other services as needed.
How Does an Offender Enroll in the Program?
Participation in the program begins with a referral. The Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the public defender’s office, a private attorney or the Richland County Department of Juvenile Justice can make referrals. Each referral is screened by a case manager from the Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (LRADAC) to determine whether the offender has a history of using alcohol or other drugs, as well as by the program coordinator from the solicitor’s office to ensure that the individual meets all other eligibility requirements. A recommendation for enrollment is then made to the family court judge who in turn makes the final decision regarding the offender’s participation in the program. Upon enrollment, the offender returns to LRADAC where treatment services are provided to meet the needs of each individual and family.
The Richland County Juvenile Drug Court is a Joint Project Between:
- Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office
- Fifth Circuit Family Court
- Lexington/Richland Alcohol and
- Drug Abuse Council
- Richland County Department of Juvenile Justice
- Richland County Public Defender’s Office
- Richland County School District Two