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Delaware agencies call for abolishing juvenile drug court

Delaware Public Media

Some state agencies say Delaware’s juvenile drug court is no longer needed and are calling for a repeal of the state’s Juvenile Drug Court Statute.

Delaware’s Family Court started to examine its juvenile drug court program in 2016. It found the number of youth needing the program is dropping because they’re being diverted from the criminal justice system.

Renee Ciconte, Deputy Director of Youth Rehabilitative Services, said the civil citation program is helping teens avoid a criminal record.

“Over the last probably decade, Division of Youth Rehab Services has made numerous reforms to kind of deter and defer kids that are low-risk to reoffend into the system," she said.

In that time period, Ciconte said the numbers of teens on probation in the First State has fallen from 3,000 to 800 today.

“They used to get in trouble, get put on probation and as a natural course of being an adolescent, they would be non-compliant and they would reoffend and we would deep-end them," she said. "So now we’re kind of giving them a soft touch and moving them along.”

Ciconte adds youth who need to be in the system are already well managed without the drug court.

Family Court, child protective services and the Delaware Department of Justice all support a repeal of the statute. The recommendation is included in this year’s Government Efficiency and Accountability Review report.

Legislation would be needed to repeal it. Who would sponsor such a bill will likely be determined when the new session starts in January.

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