Large facility benefits from model drug-testing program.

Author:Bara, Lisa
Position:Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center in Kansas City, MO; American Correctional Assn.'s urine drug-testing program

Editor's note: ACA recently completed a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through which the Association developed a model urine drug-testing program and implemented it in three juvenile detention centers including a small, medium and large facility. This article is the third in a three-part series about the program and focuses on the experience of the large facility.

Like most major metropolitan areas across the country, Kansas City has experienced a dramatic increase in violent, drug related crimes among youths. Detained youths have become increasingly aggressive in recent years, which presents complex management issues. The juveniles entering detention facilities today are more sophisticated and are usually repeat offenders.

The Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center, a secure 68-bed detention facility in Kansas City, Mo., had been considering implementing a drug-testing program for some time before participating in the ACA/IBH training program. Staff at the facility, which is primarily used for pre-adjudication detention with an average length of stay of 13 days, recognized the importance of having a system to identify juveniles entering the facility under the influence of drugs.

Many of our juveniles have entered the facility experiencing the effects of or withdrawal from a variety of street substances, especially PCP and cocaine. Unfortunately, we had no method of objectively verifying their level of intoxication. We were forced to rely upon our own observations and the word of the detainees as to what drugs they were on and how much they had ingested. Such subjective evidence obviously is not sufficient in rendering care, custody and control. Also, many detainees would vehemently deny drug use despite obvious signs to the contrary.

Being selected by ACA as the large juvenile detention facility for this year-long pilot program opened the door for the development of a facility-wide drug-testing program. Prior to attending the drug-testing training sponsored by ACA/IBH in February 1993, a committee had been meeting weekly to develop a training curriculum and to explore the details of implementing a drag-testing program in the facility, such as locating and contracting with a local laboratory certified by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The ACA/IBH training provided us with a wealth of useful information relevant to all institutional personnel; administration, medical personnel and line...

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