Suffolk court officials are hailing the return this month of the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court, a special judicial arena within Family Court designed to address the misdeeds of young people whose nonviolent criminal acts are linked to drug addiction.
“The Family Court understands the deleterious effect of drug addiction on minors and their families,” said Family Court Supervising Judge Theresa Whelan, adding that the court will be located in the Family Court building in Central Islip.
“JDTC programs are better able to assist with parental supervision, discipline of the juvenile, and reduction in a juvenile’s association with errant peers which, in turn, reduces substance abuse and delinquency among juveniles.”
C. Randall Hinrichs, district administrative judge of the Suffolk County Courts, authorized the renewal of such a specialty court — which is one of several including those handling domestic violence, veterans and family treatment — to “reduce substance abuse and certain behaviors of nonviolent substance abusing youth involved in the family court system.”
Whelan said the juvenile drug treatment court used to exist up until about five years ago, at which time, she said, it went on a hiatus because of an explosion in adult cases related to the county’s opiate epidemic and the county diverted resources to family treatment court to address that problem.
Officials said the court is much like a number of the county’s specialty courts, where a dedicated judge handles the cases in addition to a load of regular cases. It will convene weekly.
Philip Goglas, the County Court/acting Family Court judge who will be the presiding judge, said such programs “are better able to assist with parental supervision, discipline of the juvenile, and reduction in a juvenile’s association with errant peers which, in turn, reduces substance abuse and delinquency among juveniles.”
Whelan said the court will handle between 15 and 20 cases at a time, adjudicating matters concerning teenagers no more than 18 years old.
“I think it’s going to get a lot of use,” Whelan said.