The FJTC is a voluntary, therapeutic court which targets the juvenile offender whose mental illness likely contributed to the commission of their offense. The FJTC court operates on the belief that children who are challenged with mental illness and substance abuse issues that receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment early in their juvenile justice experience have a far greater chance of avoiding further criminal activities.
The mission of the FJTC is to promote public safety while moving children from the standard juvenile justice system into a mental health/substance abuse treatment system that can sustain health and non-criminal behavior. Additionally, the FJTC acts to:
In addition to the positive outcomes listed above, the FJTC is a diversion program in which charges are held in abeyance during participation in the program. Successful completion means that the charges will not become part of the child’s permanent record.
FJTC participation is based on meeting both mental health and criminality conditions. All FJTC participants must have a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) Axis I diagnosis. Conditions or disorders excluded without another eligible Axis I diagnosis are Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. Substance abuse alone does not meet the criteria without another eligible Axis I diagnosis. Crimes that would exclude a child from participation in the FJTC are violent felonies and sex offenses.
Upon agreement with the child and their parent/guardian, the mental health Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) submits all relevant documents to the FJTC Eligibility Team (ET) to include former and/or current evaluations. It is the policy of the FJTC, through this eligibility process, to move the child as early as possible from the standard juvenile justice system into a mental health/substance abuse treatment system.
If the child is accepted into the FJTC, their first hearing is scheduled to introduce the child and their parent/guardian to the court and to sign all pertinent court documents.
The FJTC is a collaborative partnership between the Alaska Court System, the Department of Law, the Public Defender Agency, Department of Health and Social Services, and Tribal and private human services agencies. The court is managed by a Multi-Disciplinary Team(MDT); a collaborative group that consists of the designated Judge, District Attorney, Child’s counsel, Juvenile Probation Officer, Project Coordinator and the child’s treatment provider(s).
The MDT uses a non-adversarial approach in which the members step out of their traditional roles and work together to promote public safety, while encouraging the successful mental health and substance abuse treatment of the juvenile offender. The Judge maintains all the traditional authority and responsibility while also leading the MDT. To maintain continuity, preferably, all therapeutic court hearings are before the same Judge.
The MDT meets weekly to discuss the child's progress prior to their status hearing. The child has a hearing with a frequency that depends on his/her progress. The status hearings are attended by the child and his/her parent/guardian, service provider(s), prosecuting and defense attorneys, JPO, social worker and Guardian Ad Litem.
The JPO appears with the child at all hearings and provides a status report on his/her treatment progress. The child typically talks directly with the Judge instead of talking through counsel or his/her JPO. The Judge may give incentives or sanctions during the hearing based on the child’s progress in following all of their conditions of conduct, obeying all laws, following the schedule of his/her educational plan, remaining drug and alcohol free, etc.
For program information, contact the Fairbanks Juvenile Treatment Court Project Coordinator at (907) 452-9307 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
| Rev. 12 May 2010
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