Believing that traditional juvenile courts aren't enough, juvenile justice reformers have created drug courts, truancy courts, girls’ courts, and mental health courts in recent years, and more may be on the way, reports Youth Today. The U.S. Justice Department has poured at least $23 million in the past three years into helping localities establish and operate them, with local government adding millions of dollars of their own. “In some respects these courts harken back to days of old when juvenile courts tried to deal with youths' problems, as opposed to just treating them as young criminals,” says Judge Dale Koch of Portland, Or., president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. “I'm encouraged that courts are trying these kinds of things.”
The courts are so new that thorough evaluations are meager so far. Advocates insist that research shows promising results in getting youth to commit fewer crimes and in saving government money. Some 424 juvenile drug courts have sprung up in the past decade and 107 are in the planning stages, says the federally funded Drug Court Clearinghouse at American University in Washington. The clearinghouse counts nearly 1,000 adult drug courts. Drug treatment long has been hampered by high failure rates, but juvenile drug courts anecdotally claim a good success rate.