Research • Policy • Practice

Glossary

Language can influence and set the tone for participants of juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs).  Please refer to this glossary for any questions about the terms in the juvenile justice field.  This is a living glossary, meaning definitions will be altered, added, and removed as new research is presented and best practices are established, so check back often.

Adjudication: Judicial determination (judgment) that a juvenile is responsible for the delinquency or status offense that is charged in a petition or other charging document. (OJJDP)

Aftercare: Supervision and services provided to a juvenile following his or her release from a correctional facility. Generally includes evaluation of treatment, educational, vocational needs and a plan to help the young person with successful readjustment to the community. (NCSL)

Alternatives to Detention: Alternative services provided to a juvenile offender in the community to avoid placement in a detention facility. (OJJDP)

Assessment: Evaluation or appraisal of a candidate's suitability for placement in a specific treatment modality/setting and the relationship to custody and supervision. In mental health, an assessment refers to comprehensive information required for the diagnosis of a mental health disorder. An assessment differs from a screening, which is used to determine if an assessment is needed. See screening. (OJJDP)

Child Abuse: Acts that cause physical and/or emotional injury to the child (not necessarily resulting in a court finding). Types of child abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. (OJJDP)

Child Neglect: Acts that include abandonment, expulsion from the home, failure to seek remedial health care or delay in seeking care, inadequate supervision, disregard for hazards in the home, or inadequate food, clothing, or shelter (not necessarily resulting in a court finding). (OJJDP)

Commitment: A court order giving guardianship of a juvenile to the state department of juvenile justice or corrections. The facility in which a juvenile may be placed may be publicly or privately operated and may range from a secure correctional placement to a nonsecure or staff-secure facility, group home, foster care, or day treatment setting. (OJJDP)

Cultural Competency: The ability of service agencies to understand the world view of clients of different cultures and adapt practices to ensure their effectiveness. (OJJDP)

Delinquency: An act committed by a juvenile that would be criminal if committed by an adult. (OJJDP)

Detention: Usually refers to the placement of a youth in a secure facility under court authority at some point between the time of referral to court intake and case disposition. (OJJDP)

Disposition: Sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court. The range of options available to a court typically includes commitment to an institution; placement in a group or foster home or other residential facility; probation (either regular or intensive supervision); referral to an outside agency, day treatment, or mental health program; or imposition of a fine, community service, or restitution. (OJJDP)

Diversion: A mechanism designed to hold youth accountable for their actions by sanctioning behavior and in some cases securing services, but at the same time generally avoiding formal court processing in the juvenile justice system. (OJJDP)

Evaluation: An evidence-based assessment of a problem-solving court conducted by a neutral third-party and resulting in documentation and/or a report of findings (e.g. Cost-Benefit, Outcome, Process Evaluation). (NCSC)

Evidence-Based Program: Programs and practices that have been shown, through rigorous evaluation and replication, to be effective at preventing or reducing juvenile delinquency or victimization, or related risk factors. (OJJDP)

Exit Type: The way in which the a participant leaves the program.

  • Successful completion: Participants who have met all requirements of the program and successfully graduated.

  • Administrative closure: Participants who left the program due to some extenuating circumstance completely outside of the court’s control. Examples of these events would include death and deportation.

  • Voluntary withdrawal: Participants who voluntarily withdraw from the problem-solving court while in compliance (i.e., the court was not considering termination).

  • General discharge: Participants who are discharged from the program, including participants who are compliant but unable to meet graduation requirements or those who become incompetent after entering the program.

  • Transfer: For jurisdictions with multiple treatment courts, this category consists of participants who are terminated from the problem-solving court and transferred to another treatment court. Typically, these participants were either initially placed incorrectly or other issues arose during treatment or case management to indicate a better fit in another program.

Failure/termination: Participants who do not fulfill the requirements of the program and are thereby terminated. Also included here are participants who withdraw from the program while non-compliant. (NCSC)

Gang: A youth gang is commonly thought of as a self-formed association of peers having the following characteristics: three or more members, generally ages 12 to 24; a gang name and some sense of identity, generally indicated by symbols such as clothing style, graffiti, and hand signs; some degree of permanence and organization; and an elevated level of involvement in delinquent or criminal activity. (OJJDP)

Graduated Sanctions: A set of integrated intervention strategies designed to operate in unison to enhance accountability, ensure public safety, and reduce recidivism by preventing future delinquent behavior. The term graduated sanctions implies that the penalties for delinquent activity should move from limited interventions to more restrictive (i.e., graduated) penalties according to the severity and nature of the crime. (OJJDP)

Grant: An award of financial assistance the principal purpose of which is to transfer a thing of value from a federal or state agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States (see 31 U.S.C. 6101(3)). (OJJDP)

Intervention: Programs or services that are intended to disrupt the delinquency process and prevent a youth from penetrating further into the juvenile justice system. (OJJDP)

Juvenile: Youth at or below the upper age of original juvenile court jurisdiction, which varies depending on the state (e.g., the age is 15 in some states and 17 in others). (OJJDP)

Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC): A specially designed court docket for youth with substance use disorders at medium to high risk for reoffending. It is intended to provide youth with specialized treatment and services.  (OJJDP)

Mental Health Disorder: Any clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome characterized by the presence of distressing symptoms, impairment of functioning, or significantly increased risk of death, pain, disability, or loss of freedom. (OJJDP)

Mentoring: A process in which the mentor serves as a role model, trusted counselor, or teacher, who provides opportunities for development, growth, and support to less experienced individuals. (OJJDP)

Needs Assessment: A process in which the mentor serves as a role model, trusted counselor, or teacher, who provides opportunities for development, growth, and support to less experienced individuals. (OJJDP)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur following the experience or witnessing of threatening events such as physical or sexual assaults, military combat, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or serious accidents. Following the traumatic event or events, some people will develop stress reactions that do not remit and may worsen. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged. (NCSC)

Probation: Cases in which youth are placed on informal/voluntary or formal/court-ordered supervision. (OJJDP)

Protective Factors: Buffers to minimize or moderate the effect of risk factors and their ability to bring about delinquent behavior. (NCSL)

Recidivism: The arrest, conviction or incarceration of an individual who currently is on probation or parole or has previously been on probation or parole or has been incarcerated. (NCSL)

Risk Factors: Factors—whether they are individual, family, peer or school and community—that increase a juvenile’s risk for delinquent behavior. (NCSL)

Screening: A process designed to determine if informal or formal processing is warranted. In the mental health setting, screening refers to an initial look at a juvenile's mental health needs. This is contrasted with an assessment to diagnose a mental health disorder, which would occur after screening. (OJJDP)

Status Hearings: Any appearance by the participant before the problem-solving court’s judicial officer with the purpose to determine the participant’s progress in the program. (NCSC)

Status Offender: A juvenile charged with or adjudicated for conduct that would not, under the law of the jurisdiction in which the offense was committed, be a crime if committed by an adult. Status offenses include truancy, curfew violations, incorrigibility, running away, and underage possession and/or consumption of alcohol or tobacco. (OJJDP)

Substance Use Disorder (SUD): Use of substances including, but not limited to, illegal drugs (e.g., heroin), prescription and nonprescription drugs, and alcohol. Sometimes referred to as alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. (OJJDP)