First graduate at teen drug court
Last year he was busted buying marijuana. This month he became the first graduate of S.T.O.P. N.O.W.!, a teen drug court at South Shore that began in October.
The 17-year-old completed the program in five-months with his mom by his side the whole way. When court staff brought out a cake for her son, she shed tears of joy.
“It’s a really good program, it keeps everyone connected,” she said.”I love how it’s family based. I’m in communication with my son more than I used to be and the court made it possible to do that. I know what’s going on in his life.”
The teen-ager said the program has made him more mature.
“You get a clearer conscience. It makes me think about my future rather than dwelling on my childhood,” he said. “It gives you more discipline when you have to clean test and meet deadlines. They’re over your shoulder keeping an eye on you. And my attendance at school improved a lot.”
Not everyone is as successful as this 17-year-old, but of the 25 teenagers who have participated in the program so far, only five have been kicked out and sent back to juvenile court.
“I love that people are involved in it,” said El Dorado County Superior Court Commissioner William Bradley. “The health department, probation department, Tahoe Youth & Family Services; they are all trying their best to find a way to help these kids. And trying to let kids try to determine what’s best for them.”
Bradley is the presiding judge of the court. He believes a commitment from the teen’s family is essential to success in the program.
“Parents have to be committed too,” he said. “They’re the ones who’ve got to get the kids out of bed every morning. If parents make exceptions, the kids probably won’t succeed. Parents have got to be as tough as we are.”
The court can be tough, but if a teen-ager respects it’s rules, there are rewards such as Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood lift tickets and bowling and movie passes.
“Sierra-at-Tahoe has been receptive, they’ve donated a lot,” Bradley said. “But we’re trying to get a lot more. The problem is the people at court can’t solicit anything.”
S.T.O.P. N.O.W!, Strong Teens Outstanding Parents New Opportunities for Wellness, is funded by a three-year, $600,000 grant from the California Office of Criminal Justice Planning.
Anyone willing to donate incentive gifts to the program should call Julie Henry at (530) 573-3383 or Olga Williams at (530) 621-6196.
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