Juvenile Drug Court
Drug Court Judge
The Honorable James L. Sanchez
Valencia County Juvenile Drug Court was the recipient of a federal grant in 2002 for drug court implementation. Since inception, the drug court has grown to be one of the largest juvenile drug courts in the state serving an average of 60-65 participants and their families each year. There have been 93 successful graduates of the program. Drug courts’ 197 participants have contributed 16,410 hours of community service at a value of $114,870 to the local community. Community service projects have included graffiti clean up, trash pick up, work at volunteer fire departments, beautification projects, etc.
Drug courts have been proven to be a cost effective approach to treating substance abusing juvenile offenders. There is a substantial cost savings to the community when a child is rehabilitated from his or her former criminal activities which cost homeowners, businesses and the community, thousands of dollars each year. The cost per client per day, including the parent as client, is $15.07. Traditional detention costs $125 per day. The savings from having a client in the Valencia County Juvenile Drug Court as opposed to detention during that time would have been $4,098,687. These cost saving calculations do not reflect the added costs for similarly situated non-drug court participants such as substance abuse related health issues, counseling, in-patient or out-patient treatment and costs associated with recidivism.
Valencia County Juvenile Drug Court places importance on the value of education and its impact on the future of our participants. The drug court has 100% educational involvement of its participants. Additionally, a comprehensive and innovative educational program has been adopted by the drug court. This program tests the educational aptitude of all juveniles entering the program. Based on these test results, participants receive individualized assistance in improving educational abilities. Tutoring and GED classes are held on site. Several drug court participants have gone on to college.
Valencia County Juvenile Drug Court has a strong team and is under the leadership of District Judge, Violet C. Otero. Representation from Juvenile Probation and Parole, the District Attorneys’ Office, Treatment Providers, Law Enforcement, Schools, and Public Defenders’ Office creates the diversity and balance that is an integral part of the programs’ achievements. Interest from the community continues to grow as the programs success becomes more evident with each successful graduate. The continued dedication of the team and judge and the innovation shown by this drug court will ensure that current and future participants will receive the best treatment and services possible.