Judge David Greenberg spoke Tuesday at the weekly meeting of the Charles Town Rotary, sharing information about the Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court program.
The program, begun in 2012, has a mission stating: "Through judicial accountability, the Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court works to reduce juvenile substance abuse and delinquent acts through a collaborative community effort and with supportive programs of intervention that work toward eliminating substance use and related problems of our area youth and their families."
Greenberg shared that in ten cases that appeared in court Tuesday morning, more than half of those had some drug component. The Juvenile Drug Court offers an intervention program to assist in changing the course of the life of not only a young person but also of their parents.
The current program has nine individuals who meet each week and report in daily, Greenberg said. The juveniles in the program are referred by the court or possibly the school system and must be accepted, he said.
"The program is not for everyone," he said. Greenberg stressed that parents have to be on board and committed to making a change in their lives and in the life of their child. The youth and parents meet each week for Drug Court where they take part in counseling sessions and then enjoy a meal.
"This is a big deal to some of the families," Greenberg said, as they meet with other families, mentors and court volunteers.
The program is a four-phase program, explained probation officer Shannon Travis, who joined Greenberg at Tuesday's luncheon. Each has various requirements, she explained. The first three involve supervision, drug screening, court appearances and meeting with probation officers while the final phase is a completion and graduation ceremony.
"It is much more difficult to get through drug court than through traditional probation," Travis said.
The program serves youth ages 10-17, although Gteenberg says the average ages are 14-17. These youth demonstrate substance abuse or high risk for abuse and are charged or can be charged with any nonviolent misdemeanor or felony crime where underlying substance abuse may be a factor or who are substance abuse offenders.
Greenberg said the drug of choice in the area that is most common is marijuana.
"That seems to be the starting point," he said. He went on to say that manufactured "stuff" with chemicals such as "spice" are also common.
The Juvenile Drug Court program runs for approximately a year, Travis said and can only be successful with parent involvement. Following successful completion of and graduation from the program, the juvenile's records are then destroyed.
For those who wish to find out more information about the Juvenile Drug Court, contact Travis at 304-728-3980.