CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Power recently invited participants in two area juvenile drug courts to attend baseball games at Appalachian Power Park for free.
“We appreciate the Power for this great incentive for the youth,” said Twenty-Ninth Judicial Circuit (Putnam County) Judge Phillip M. Stowers, who oversees the Putnam County Juvenile Drug Court.
Juveniles in that program and the Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit (Boone and Lincoln Counties) Juvenile Drug Court received tickets, as did some family members.
Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge William S. Thompson and Tenth Family Court Circuit (Boone and Lincoln Counties) Judge Scott Elswick said the goal of taking the juveniles to the game was to expose them to positive social events with positive role models and to provide an incentive for their work in the program.
Many of the juveniles live their entire lives surrounded by drugs, poverty, and criminal behavior. “By occupying as much time as possible with positive people and places, we hope to show them that a drug-free life is possible” said Justin Marlowe, Boone County Assistant Prosecutor.
The Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit’s outing was made possible by a partnership with the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services, which operates the Tri-County Youth Report Center in Madison. The center provides treatment services to at-risk children in Boone, Lincoln, and Logan Counties.
“I’m proud of the partnership between DJS and Probation Services,” said Jason Wright, assistant director of community-based services for the division. “The partnership makes events like this possible. We look forward to future programs, events and opportunities for the kids we serve.”
Thompson who presides over the Boone County drug court participants, said, “Drugs are the most serious problem we face in our community. We have to break this cycle of drugs and criminal behavior by showing the kids a better way.”
Elswick, who presides over the Lincoln County program, said “The majority of these kids were raised by drug users and are programed from birth to use themselves. We have to provide a positive role model to follow and events like this accomplish that.”
West Virginia has a growing network of adult and juvenile drug courts, which are intensive supervision probation programs. Each court is administered by a local judge.
Drug courts are intensive probation programs that focus on drug treatment but offer other Juvenile drug court participants are usually in the program for six to eight months.
Initially, a participant meets with the drug court judge weekly and a probation officer several times per week. Juvenile drug courts are intended for youths who are at risk of becoming addicted, not those who are already addicted.
Adult drug courts include those who already are addicted. Participants complete a treatment program of no less than twelve months. They are required to attend group and individual counseling, to take drug tests multiple times per week, to perform community service work, to participate in education programs, and to work on individualized rehabilitation plans as directed. They meet with probation officers frequently and see the drug court judge at least weekly.