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Jail Based Treatment And Drug Re-Entry Courts

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Prison overcrowding and criminal recession are enormous problems in the criminal justice system. Yet, states and districts cannot afford to continue to build new jails and prisons. A great number of those in prison or jail are there for drug related crimes. One solution to these problems is treatment to help minimize the incarceration for drug offenders. Criminal offenders who use drugs can receive drug treatment instead of serving time in jail or prison. Once their addictions are treated, drug offenders are less likely to commit future crimes. This frees up prison cells and resources for more serious offenders. Governors and legislators in several states have recently expressed greater interest in changing sentencing laws for drug offenses and increasing substance abuse treatment for those moving through the criminal justice system.

The first drug court was established in Florida in 1989. Since then, 697 have been established in all 50 states. The popularity and success of drug courts has grown to the point that legislators in 28 states identified the issue as a high priority for the 2002 legislative session, according to a survey conducted by the Health Policy Tracking Service.

A drug court is defined as a special court given the responsibility to handle cases involving drug-addicted offenders through an extensive supervision and treatment program. In the drug court, all defense counsels, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement and correctional personnel, probation officers, educational and vocational experts, and treatment providers work together to force the offender to deal with his or her addiction. In addition, drug courts ensure consistent judicial decisions and enhance the coordination of agencies and resources, thus improving the program's cost-effectiveness. A re-entry drug court is a court that manages the return to the community of individuals being released from prison, using the authority of the court to apply graduated sanctions and positive reinforcement and to marshal resources to support the prisoner's reintegration to promote positive behavior by the returning prisoner.

Drug courts often are confused with diversion programs. They are actually two different models of treatment within the criminal justice system. The two models are similar in that offenders are sentenced to a drug treatment program rather than to jail or prison; however, there are many key differences between the two models. Drug courts differ from diversion in that most drug courts are probation-based or post-plea programs. Also, in drug courts, the judge remains active in the offender's treatment through the offender's regular appearances in the drug court and continuously monitors all participants progress, failing to follow the requirements of the program results in the imposition of a variety of graduated sanctions. Participants sign a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that includes a waiver of speedy trial and a limited waiver of confidentiality so staff can report the offender's progress directly to the Court. All participants are supervised by the Department of Corrections, Pretrial Intervention Officers.

Furthermore, in drug court, the judge has much more discretion to impose prison sentences for failure to participate in treatment and remain drug free, the threat of which forces many offenders to report to treatment and not use drugs. The Drug Court Treatment Division is a diversionary program that was designed as an alternative to traditional incarceration for first time, non-violent criminal offenders who are charged with the purchase or possession of a controlled substance or other substance abuse related offense. The one-year program helps to break the cycle of addiction and criminal justice involvement by using a variety of individualized treatment services to restore the participant as a productive member of society. The Division is accredited by CARF and became the first Drug Court in existence to be accredited under CARF's drug court standards. The accreditation ensures that all clients are receiving a high quality of service while enrolled in treatment. On the contrary, most diversion programs are pre-plea programs. In diversion, the offender is placed on probation and the case manager or probation officer oversees the offender's treatment. In the diversion model, the judge has limited discretion to impose sentences for the offender's failure to comply with the terms of probation.

Offenders who wish to have their felony charges dismissed will be eligible to participate in the Drug Court Treatment Program by meeting the following criteria. They must be 18 years or older, have no prior felony convictions and they have to be charged with substance abuse-related charge(s).

The Drug Court Treatment Program is a four-phase, multi-disciplinary approach to substance abuse treatment that encompasses both traditional and innovative interventions. The Program offers:

* Diagnostic and assessment services

* Orientation groups

* Education groups

* Group & individual therapy

* Fellowship meetings

* Treatment interventions

* Urinalysis screening

* Acupuncture

* Apprenticeship program

* Educational/vocational referrals

* Relapse Prevention

* Case management

* Psychiatric counseling

* Family Orientation Classes

* Family Support Groups

* Alumni Groups

* Transitional Housing

* Transportation

The steps for the program are as follows. After booking, defendants are screened for eligibility at the Pretrial Detention Center. In Court, the judge explains the program to new defendants, making it clear that they should expect a year of treatment, which will be difficult to succeed,

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