The Harlem Juvenile Intervention Court is a community-based juvenile drug court that seeks to link delinquent youth to drug treatment and other services such as counseling, tutoring and positive social activities. The goal is to give young people the structure and support they need to avoid further criminal behavior.
The Juvenile Intervention Court Application - developed by the court system's independent research and development arm, the Center for Court Innovation, with support from the State Justice Institute - is a computer software program that uses Intranet technology to create an electronic workplace for the diverse group of players who participate in a juvenile drug court. Addressing the information challenges unique to a juvenile drug court, the technology enables judges, attorneys, probation officers, case managers and service providers to access information quickly and easily within the strict confidentiality guidelines of family court.
Like their adult counterparts, juvenile drug courts seek to use judicial authority to tackle the problems that people bring with them to court. In general, juvenile drug courts share many of the attributes of the adult drug court model: an expanded role for the judge, detailed assessment of each respondent, intensive case management, partnerships with community-based programs, graduated sanctions and rewards and strict accountability.
Sophisticated technology applications that have been successful for adult drug courts did not meet all the needs of a juvenile treatment setting. Adult treatment court applications are designed for a more static treatment plan and a more linear process of tracking compliance. Individually crafted plans, broad mandates across multiple programs and the developmental stage of the population require frequent changes in both the psychosocial assessments and the strengthening plans for juveniles in a treatment court. To be truly effective, a juvenile drug court technology application must facilitate communication between more partners - probation officers, school counselors, family members - while complying with a different, and more rigorous, set of confidentiality rules.
In developing technology for the Harlem Juvenile Intervention Court, technology planners sought to build a system that would yield stronger relationships between partner agencies and the court, better information, increased accountability, and improved measures of success.