THE COUNTY SCENE FROM SUSAN MORGAN – Juvenile Department

The Douglas County’s Juvenile Department (JD) has just released its 8th card for 2013-14 that charts the continued effectiveness of the programs involving teens, mostly 18 and younger, that are sanctioned in the criminal justice system.

Success in the Juvenile Department, as in many physical, mental and substance abuse programs, is measured in avoidance of future costs. The cost to society of continuing to deal with criminal activity, mental health issues and substance abuse issues as these teens develop into adult offenders is staggering. To give juveniles skills and guidance that will help them turn their lives around is a powerful tool to keep future costs down.

The Juvenile Department spends a lot of time teaching teens to use skills that positively control anger and impulses, make positive decisions, be responsible citizens, and use the power that they have to control their futures. To verify that the learning is actually changing behavior, the teens are tracked to see if they reoffend and get pulled back into the police, courts and correction systems.

Of great concern is the dramatic increase in mental health and substance abuse problems in youth referred to the JD over the past eight years. The JD has responded by adding services in these areas. The Community Health Alliance (CHA) provides mental health assessment and counselling service, and ADAPT is the provider of substance abuse and addiction treatment.

The Juvenile Dept. is working well, and is highly regarded state-wide. Our juveniles have consistently completed their community service and made meaningful restitution to the victims of the crimes they committed. While on court ordered supervision, 87% of the teens stayed out of the justice system, 86% of them attended school or had a job, and 87% of them successfully completed all the terms of their probation.

The total budget for 14-15 is just over $3 million. About 30% comes from federal and state pass through funds. Fees for services bring in about 23%, and about $1.5 million (47%) comes from the county’s reserve (safety net) funds.

The JD has 40.5 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. 32.3 provide direct services to the Detention and Shelter Care Facilities. 5.2 support the legal work necessary for the court and probation systems, and 3 positions administer the operation. This is a people intensive business as the facilities are staffed 24/7. Over 80% of the cost is payroll.

I always welcome your questions or comments. Please contact me by email at morgan@co.douglas.or.us; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg, 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.

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