Topside is the surface of a ship's hull above the water line. When a heavy storm hits, going "topside" means a better chance of survival and an opportunity to directly face the storm and do what needs to be done to keep from going under. Jefferson County's Juvenile Justice Topside Program is an alternative to court intervention for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. A youth ready for a referral to this program is one who has been identified as a moderate/high risk youth with significant risk factors in Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health along with school, family, or aggression.
This program is designed to recognize that most of the behaviors that result in a youth's referral to the juvenile justice system are not simply a law enforcement justice problem, but often a reflection of complicated health or social issues that eh youth (and often the family) is having a difficult managing on their own.
The design of the court involves collaboration on the part of the Judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, juvenile services, treatment providers (mental health, family therapy, and substance abuse), community organizations and schools.
Juvenile court research shows that the mediators for success in a juvenile treatment court setting include a direct relationship between the Court, the parents and the youth on a regular basis with treatment support. This program is trying to capture that relationship in an effort to better support youth and their families during these difficult times.