The Adolescent Intervention and Diversion Project provides representation for adolescents who are prosecuted in the adult criminal courts. The project, comprised of attorneys and social workers, uses an interdisciplinary approach to address the complex issues facing our clients and their families.
The needs of these young clients exist along a continuum, but the majority present multiple, significant issues which must be addressed to minimize incarceration and recidivism. Our experience has demonstrated that approximately 20% of the adolescents in this group have been or presently are in foster care. Half regularly use drugs and/or alcohol and/or have a family member who are chemically addicted or dependent. A significant percentage have been victims of or have lived in the presence of domestic violence. Approximately two-thirds have known or undetected special education needs. Many do not attend school regularly because their school programs fail to meet their needs. Twenty-five percent have significant mental health needs, requiring medication and consistent counseling services.
The project also provides legal and educational advocacy and has a clinical social worker who can provide intensive, therapeutic services to the youth and their families. We provide referrals to community-based and residential therapeutic and educational programs. Additionally, the project serves as a point of collaboration of all the service providers to court-involved youth in an effort to create individualized and comprehensive care plans addressing the needs of the youth and their families. This work has successfully reduced the detention time served and the recidivism rates of our adolescent clients.