Step by step, day by day, minors on probation fought hard to stay away from drugs. This evening, after a 270-day program, they celebrated what for some is the first significant achievement in their lives by graduating from San Diego’s Juvenile Drug Court. They proved they can live without drugs.

Dozens of participants accepted their diplomas during a Celebration of Success Ceremony at Stein Education Center in San Diego. Friends and family were on hand to congratulate the graduates along with the many mentors who helped the young people reach their goals.

Juvenile Drug Court is a nine-month long program for juveniles who have had difficulties overcoming their drug addictions in the past. The rigorous program involves a team of judges, probation officers, juvenile recovery specialists, a deputy district attorney, a public defender and a family clinician.

The three-phase program requires each participant to successfully complete the first phase before moving on to the next. Slip-ups may require starting again at the very beginning. The juveniles must attend Drug Court, undergo drug treatment, random drug testing and attend school. They must complete any conditions of their probation and meet regularly with a Probation Officer and a Juvenile Recovery Specialist. Juveniles who successfully complete the program may be eligible for completion of probation.

“Juvenile Drug Court is a successful intervention program for minors on probation,” said Mack Jenkins, Chief Probation Officer, San Diego County Probation Department. “It gives these young people the help and support they need to kick their drug addictions and begin life anew as clean and sober members of society.”    

During the graduation, 79th District Assemblyman Ben Hueso acted as Master of Ceremonies. The keynote speaker was Fabian Debora, an artist and substance abuse counselor for Home Boy Industries in Los Angeles. The organization is known for steering gang members and other at-risk youth away from crime and into jobs. Some of the graduates had met Debora during a field trip to Home Boy Industries.

To learn more about Juvenile Drug Court, contact Mara Steinberg at (858) 694-4439.