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Grant Will Help Fund Planning of Drug Court

July 18, 1998|CHRIS CEBALLOS

Orange County Juvenile Court recently received a $30,000 federal grant to begin planning a drug court.

President Clinton last week announced about $27 million in grants nationwide for the programs, which offer an alternative to prison for drug users.

The local grant money will go toward a planning committee consisting of representatives from county probation, health care, public defender and district attorney's offices.

The committee will visit three existing juvenile drug courts. One of the committee's first tasks will be to create a profile for program candidates. Juveniles facing charges involving violence or weapons already have been eliminated from the eligibility list.

Orange County Juvenile Court Administrator Kari Sheffield said she'd like to include more than just drug offenders as candidates. Sheffield said she wants to find out if drug use is a reason behind petty theft and other nonviolent crimes among juveniles.

Orange County runs drug court programs for adults in Superior Court and in some municipal branches.

Nationwide, programs have about a 75% graduation rate and have been responsible for reuniting almost 2,500 mothers with their children since their inception in 1995.

With county jails operating at nearly 140% capacity, the Board of Supervisors last month approved $200,000 for local drug courts already in operation.

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