Use and Evaluation of Hair Analysis, Urinalysis, and Ion Mobility Spectrometry in a Juvenile Diversion Program in New Orleans

Tom Mieczkowski, University of South Florida
Rosemary Mumm, Office of the DA, New Orleans
Harry F. Connick, New Orleans, District Attorney

This paper will report on a innovative juvenile drug-offender pre-trial diversion program modeled after the ongoing New Orleans (Adult) Diversion Program. Among the distinctive and unique features of this program are the combined use of three drug detection technologies, urinalysis, hair analysis, and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). These techniques are used for client assessment and monitoring. Although the Juvenile Diversion Program is generally modeled on the principles of an established Adult Diversion Program, it contains a number of unique and specific features that target the specific client juvenile population; young, primarily teenage, first-time criminal offenders who are involved in drug-abuse. This paper will describe the conceptual basis of the juvenile diversion process, its specific operational character, the integration of the three drug testing technologies into the protocols of the program, and the results of the application of these technologies.

The Juvenile Diversion Program is an example of an important method for responding to drug-involved, arrested juveniles. The amount of drug use by criminally involved youth is substantial. Diversion represents a potentially effective way to deliver treatment and services to this population, and consequently maximize the likelihood of long-term, positive behavior change. Furthermore, diversion as a general approach to the handling of juvenile offenders represents a mechanism of criminal justice response that is less financially costly than traditional approaches relying on incarceration. The diversion program offers a wide range of aid, services, and support in addition to traditional correctional monitoring. The paper will offer the intensive diagnostic and clinical assessments, treatment options, and ancillary support that are central components of a viable diversion process.

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Updated 05/20/2006