Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mental Health Court Launched


Drug Court is not for everyone! Mental Health Court may very well be the best option for those with drug related mental health issues that land them up on the wrong side of the law.

Friday, January 29, 2010 10:30 AM EST

"Batavia Drug Court has slowly incorporated a new aspect into its 10-year-old program, one that will officially be celebrated in March.

Batavia Mental Health Treatment Court, which has been in operation for about three months, will meet the needs of criminal defendants with mental health issues, said Nicole Desmond, Drug Court coordinator.

Drug Court has been helping people with mental health problems, beginning with two participants were referred to the program by officials at Batavia Veteran's Administration. The two graduated from Drug Court in October.

Drug Court began in 1999 and was solely for non-violent felony drug and alcohol offenders.



About 300 people have graduated from the program.

Desmond is planning a March 23 opening ceremony at Batavia City Court to honor those participating in the new aspect of Drug Court."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

24/7Alcohol Bracelets Helping to Keep Vets Sober and Accountable



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24/7 Alcohol Bracelets Helping to Keep Veterans Sober and Accountable:Buffalo Veterans Court Tackling Alcohol Issues With Tough Monitoring, a Touch of Compassion
As the country prepares to honor its military veterans November 11th, the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court is employing a high-tech tool to help keep their community's struggling military veterans sober tiffany and accountable.
The veterans program began using the technology, known as SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), in December of 2008 in order to help manage the epidemic rate of alcohol abuse and addiction among the combat veterans in their court. The system includes an ankle bracelet, worn 24/7, that actually samples an offender's perspiration every 30 minutes in order Paloma Picasso Loving Heart Pendant to measure for alcohol consumption and ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety and treatment requirements.
The award-winning program was the first veteran-specific court in the country to deal with the unique needs of the ever-increasing number of combat veterans going through the criminal justice system. Under the direction of the Honorable Robert T. Russell, the court aims to link veterans coming through the city's criminal justice system with a full range of social services, including drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services, medical care, anger management, family counseling, vocation/educational services and housing. “Substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment, mental health problems–these issues are found in combination and in alarming numbers with our combat veterans,” says Russell. “Ensuring the sobriety of these offenders while we address their issues is essential for long-term success and for helping these men and women get their lives back on track, as well as community safety,” he adds.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) has recently launched a Veterans Treatment Court Clearing House in response to the overwhelming interest in creating a veterans program from courts across the U.S. According to NADCP, there are now 13 Veterans Treatment Courts across the country, and with funding from the Veterans Administration, the number of programs is expected to increase substantially in 2010.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1.8 million combat veterans meet the criteria for having substance abuse issues. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that 35 percent of justice-involved veterans suffer from alcohol dependency, and the U.S. Department of Defense reports that the rate of veteran involvement in alcohol-related incidents,Paloma Picasso Loving Heart pendant including DUI, reckless driving and drunk and disorderly conduct, more than tripled between 2005 and 2006 alone. “This isn't about criminality,” says Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO of Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, which manufactures and markets SCRAM throughout the U.S. “This is about addiction. When these individuals drink, bad things happen, and this program is redefining the way our justice system can change the course of their lives,” says Iiams.
The Buffalo Drug and DUI courts have utilized the SCRAM System since 2007, monitoring more than 330 offenders to-date, and the Veterans Treatment Court began using the anklets in December of 2008. AMS donated 10 units to the Buffalo Veterans program in 2008, acknowledging what Iiams calls the “critical importance” of the ground-breaking program. Today, veterans monitored by SCRAM in the Buffalo program pay $6 per day for the monitoring fee, making the program self-sustaining.
SCRAM currently monitors just over 10,000 offenders daily and has monitored more than 115,000 offenders in 48 states since it became available in 2003. SCRAM is used to manage and monitor drunk drivers, drug and domestic violence offenders and underage drinkers. It's also utilized as a tool in family court, where the determination of custody may be dependent on a participant's sobriety.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAMA, the world's only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption. SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 108 people across the U.S. Tiffany 1837 pendant and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.
SOURCE Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crime Statistics:DWI Court Shows Promise-Crime in America.net


Executive Summary
In June 2007, the New York State Unified Court System launched hybrid DWI/drug courts in Erie and Niagara Counties to address the issue of persistent driving while intoxicated (DWI).
The courts, based on the proven drug court model, target nonviolent felony DWI offenders who have at least one prior DWI conviction and who are identified as having an alcohol abuse problem.
An earlier process evaluation describes the DWI court model, documenting court policies, implementation challenges, and participant characteristics (Washousky 2008). The current report evaluates the impact of the Erie and Niagara courts on re-arrest and case processing. Outcomes were compared between 90 DWI court participants and 259 similar defendants sentenced by judges in Erie and Niagara. Weighting techniques were implemented to adjust for baseline differences in current charges, prior criminal history, and key demographic characteristics (age, sex, and race). In addition, the report examines DWI court compliance and alcohol use outcomes among the participant sample.
Impacts on Recidivism
Consistent with previous research, overall re-arrest rates were low among both the DWI court participants and the comparison sample. Less than 1% of both samples had been re-arrested at three months post-sentence; slightly more comparison defendants than DWI court participants had been re-arrested at both six months (2% versus 4%) and one year (5% versus 8%) postsentence.
While not statistically significant, these results suggest a possible positive effect of the DWI court program. The results further suggest that DWI court participants may be slightly more likely to have a new DWI re-arrest at six months and one year; though again, these results do not reach statistical significance.
Survival analysis results reveal that the DWI court did not significantly impact the amount of crime-free time prior to a new arrest for DWI court participants. This is likely due, in part, to the low re-arrest rate among both DWI court participants and comparison defendants.
Impacts on Case Processing
Defendants in both the participant and comparison samples took over eight months on average to reach disposition. There was no difference in time to disposition between the two samples.
DWI Court Participant Outcomes
The majority (75%) of DWI court participants included in the evaluation were still actively enrolled in the program at the time of the analysis. Of those who were no longer active (23 defendants), the majority (83%) had successfully graduated. Only three defendants (13%) failed the program outright and were resentenced; an additional defendant (4%) entered the court and was then returned to standard case processing in response to noncompliance. Despite constant blood alcohol monitoring via an ankle monitor and frequent drug screening, very few DWI court participants tested positive for alcohol (3%) or drugs (7%). Nine percent of defendants tried to tamper with the screening device, which suggests an intent to ingest alcohol.
In total, only 14 defendants had ever re-used or participants were somewhat more likely to have a noncompliant incident (i.e., positive drug or alcohol screen, removal or blocking of the required monitoring anklet, or program failure); white defendants and those charged with “common law” DWI (VTL §1192.3) were less likely to have a noncompliant incident.
Conclusion
Over the limited time period covered by this evaluation, the Erie and Niagara hybrid DWI/drug courts did not significantly impact the probability, prevalence, or timing of re-arrest. However, while not statistically significant, slightly more comparison defendants than DWI court participants had been re-arrested at both six months and one year post-sentence, suggesting a possible positive effect of the DWI court program. Future research should examine court impact over a longer time period, including post-program time for DWI court participants.
See http://courttechnology.org/_uploads/documents/dwi_court_evaluation.pdf

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Young Offenders Need Safeguards in Detention Centers


Tuesday, January 26, 2010
As the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services has "struggled to manage the juvenile offender population and adequately staff the District's juvenile detention facilities" ["D.C. facility has surge in juvenile detainees," Metro, Jan. 21], dozens of nonviolent juveniles are put at risk of horrifying abuse every day.
D.C. officials fear that poor security could result in escapes. But poor security can lead to worse than that. It was poor security that was cited in a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics as one of the main factors for the sexual assault of more than 12 percent of detained youths by staff and other inmates. In some facilities, the assault rate was as high as 30 percent.
We can't afford to warehouse kids in such conditions. Sexual abuse can leave lifelong psychological scars that make it harder for offenders to reintegrate into society. We must hold juveniles accountable, but we must also provide real opportunities for change in safe environments, including through alternatives to incarceration such as drug courts, substance-abuse programs and electronic monitoring. No juvenile offender deserves a sentence of sexual assault.
Kathryn Wiley, Round Hill
The writer is a researcher for the group Justice Fellowship.

Monday, January 25, 2010

HOPE program pilots strong probation methods for addicts without mandatory drug treatment:Grits for breakfast


Monday, January 25, 2010
HOPE program pilots strong probation methods for addicts without mandatory drug treatment

"Drug courts have been at the forefront of using strong probation methods in Texas and throughout the country, but evidence-based practices in community supervision are applicable to all sorts of crimes and don't necessarily involve drug treatment. So I was interested to read this discussion from Reuters distinguishing drug courts from the much-ballyhooed HOPE program out of Hawaii:


The first drug court was founded in the Miami area more than 20 years ago and there are now nearly 2,400 nationwide.

They focus on probationers "because if you use drugs for a long period of time, sooner or later you will more than likely end up in trouble with the law," RAND's Kilmer said.

A number of studies have shown that drug courts reduce crime in their area by up to 40 percent and cut rearrests and convictions by up to 26 percent. According to an April 2008 Urban Institute study, for every $1 spent on drug courts, $2.21 is saved through reduced police, hospital and other costs.

Treatment programs also cost about 50 percent less than incarceration, a fact that has apparently grabbed the attention of many cash-starved U.S. states.

"Quite frankly, we're in a very tough economy," Kerlikowske said. "That is spurring people to look at different solutions, especially ones that cost less than incarceration."

Domanick of John Jay College estimates 800,000 Americans a year are arrested for marijuana and said the situation has become unsustainable. "All of the data shows drug treatment works for people who are ready... if it works, you don't have to spend $50,000 to incarcerate people," he said.

Federal funding for drug courts was increased in the fiscal 2010 budget to $88.8 million from $63.8 million in 2009. West Huddleston, head of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, said the group aims to use bipartisan support in Congress to seek $1 billion in federal funding over four years to expand drug courts because they only reach about 10 percent of people who need them.

Others like Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, argue in favor of a new approach used in Hawaii, called Project Hope. Started by Judge Steven Alm, Hope uses swift punishment of a few nights in jail for those who fail drug tests and makes drug treatment voluntary -- in drug court, participation in treatment is mandatory.

Kleiman said the program had led to a 50 percent reduction in crime and a recidivism rate of 7 percent. "Drug courts are resource hogs," he said. "This system is much cheaper and more effective."

Critics of the program say without treatment for addiction, they doubt that drug addicts can go clean.

Drug Czar Kerlikowske said the Hope program would also be considered by the administration as part of the drug strategy it will make public in February.

For people like Chief Lamkin in St Charles, working with the drug court involves partnering closely with judges and defense attorneys to work out who has a chance of making it through the treatment program and who would be better off going to jail.

"But one thing is clear," he said. "If we locked up all the drug users we'd break the bank. It just isn't physically possible."


I tend to agree that not everyone convicted of drug possession needs mandatory treatment, and many (probably most) drug users who quit do so without treatment. But I know quite a few drug court judges (starting with John Creuzot up in Dallas) who would balk at the prospect of making treatment voluntary.

OTOH, Dr. Edward Latessa and others have argued for focusing treatment resources on only the most high-risk offenders, and that high treatment levels for low-risk offenders actually increase recidivism. That mitigates in favor of HOPE's approach. It's likely the majority of drug-possession defendants don't fit into the "high risk" category.

Latessa argues for use of screening and assessment tools to figure out where is that dividing line among drug users - who would benefit from mandatory treatment and who would not. At the HOPE program, though, the process is essentially self selective. Treatment is not initially required, but "repeat offenders are often ordered into residential treatment."

In any event, with all the attention paid recently to Hawaii's HOPE program, which has been touted as among the most promising strong-probation methodologies, I hadn't realized that key distinction compared to drug courts - the lack of mandatory treatment, at least on the front end. That probably represents better stewardship of scarce resources than a one-size-fits-all approach.

MORE: Thanks to Jake Horowitz for letting me know that the Pew Trusts' Public Safety Performance Project this month released a research brief (pdf) on the HOPE program based on an evaluation (pdf) funded by the National Institute of Justice that came out in December."
From Grits for Breakfast blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Redmond O'Neal Ordered to Drug Court


April 30, 2009
Redmond, the son of Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett, ordered into Drug Court program which will consist of a rehabilitation program lasting for one year, or longer. This will include spending time in a treatment facility. Redmond will be required to do frequent drug testing, counseling, and a 12-step program.

Redmond faces up to four years in jail if he fails his Drug Court program. He will be required to report back to court in May for a progress report.


Redmond was arrested in September,2008 on a methamphetamine possession charge. At that time he was on probation for pleading guilty to a DUI charge in June 2008. He was required to participate in the Drug Court program due to these charges. He made a not guilty plea on yet a third drug-related charge in court yesterday. He will be required to stand before the court on May 22 for this offense.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Drug Court-Dawn's Story




By Mary Meehan
MMEEHAN1@HERALD-LEADER.COM

"I messed up," reads the plea in careful, girlish script. "I used. I don't know why or what's wrong with me. ... I thought I didn't have a problem, that I could just quit. But I'm wrong. How can all those other people just quit? ... What if I can't get better? I don't want to be this way anymore. ... I want to be normal again."

Dawn Nicole Smith is desperate to get clean when writing this letter in May 2004, pleading with her Fayette County Drug Court caseworker, Elton Terry, for help.

She's praying that if she admits to taking drugs before a drug test shows she has, the judge will take pity and not send her to jail for a year. That's her sentence for stealing a prescription pad to obtain 540 pain pills in 53 days.

She's been using almost daily for two years. If too many hours pass without a pill, her body revolts. Her hands shake. Her insides cramp. Her head aches. Sitting up, tracking a conversation or watching television takes almost unfathomable energy and focus.

"It just feels like I'm fighting myself," she says. "My mind is tired. I've asked the Lord to help me not to do those pills no more."

She's tired because it's not just her life, but her family's, hanging in the balance. Dawn, 22, already has three sons, from her six-year marriage to Tony Smith. She's convinced herself she's shielded them from the worst of her addiction, one of the many lies she tells herself to get through the day. Tonio, 5, acts as if it's his job to make his mama better; David, 3, is an ever-watchful boy with a head of wild curls, and baby Kobe, 2, copes with the family chaos by careening between fits of anger and tears.

These dark-haired boys — her "heart," Dawn calls them — cling to her even when she's too high to feel the gentle rise of their chests as they nestle close in sleep.

She smiles a face-splitting grin, a rare instance of joy, at a mention of them. As she talks about them, she leans her head to the right, taking one strand of her long, dirty hair and twirling it around the inside of her ear, a calming tic she's had since she was a kid.

The drugs exaggerate in their lives the imperfect affection found in all families. But the children love her, as only kids can. And she loves them, as much as she is able.

THAT FIRST PILL

Dawn's goals, even when she was a kid, were never ambitious. She thought, once, about becoming a veterinarian, but she never finished high school. Now she longs for much more basic things: a house with the heat on, food for her kids, 24 hours without taking a pill.

Growing up in Crab Orchard and Lexington, she saw others turn to alcohol, then crack and sometimes pills. Even as Dawn begins drug court, her stepfather, Larry Raines, is on probation for forging a prescription for the painkiller Percocet in the name of Brenda Raines, his wife and Dawn's mom. Brenda is on probation for writing bad checks to support a crack habit that, she says, once cost her $1,000 in a day. Dawn says she doesn't know anyone who has, long-term, quit using drugs or alcohol.

Dawn was wild in middle school. For running with a fast crowd and drinking, she was sent away to a group home.

The drugs started after her babies were born.

She was dragging, exhausted from working, taking care of the boys and worrying about paying the rent and having food in the house. Someone she worked with at McDonald's said she had something that could help. Dawn waited until she got home to take that first oblong pain pill — a Lortab. As she sat on the couch in the dark with a battered old television on, a hazy sense of peace settled into her bones.

It was like a missing piece of herself slipped into place.

"It just made me feel sooooooo relaxed," she says, smiling at the memory, even after all the trouble that pill set into motion. "It's like people do crack, that one hit gets them. That one pill got me."

The warm release was followed by a burst of energy. She felt like she could actually do things better, take care of the kids, clean the house. "Weird and wonderful," Dawn says, dreamily, of that first time. "Weird and wonderful."

*Note: to read the rest of Dawn's story, and view the video's, click on the title link.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Four People Complete Drug Court Program in Emotional Ceremony


By BARBARA ARRIGONI - Staff Writer
Posted: 01/14/2010 09:28:31 PM PST


Sometimes the road to victory is rough, but as four Butte County residents testified Thursday, one can definitely make it.
Those victors were two men and two women who made the long, stringent journey through the county's drug court program to a graduation ceremony at the courthouse in Oroville.

It was an emotional afternoon, not only for the graduates and current drug court clients, but for friends, families and drug court officials, including Superior Court Judge Sandra L. McLean.

Before the ceremony, excited Chicoan Troy Woodrow was anxious to get started.

"I feel great," Woodrow said. "I'm excited to get on with the rest of my life. It took this program to change my life, but now that I'm through it, I'm ready to get on with the rest of my life."

Drug Court is an 18-month program, but it took Woodrow 26 months to complete it. During the graduation, he told the audience that in the beginning, he didn't think he would make it.

"At one point, early on, I made a decision to change everything and do everything asked of me by drug court to be successful," he said.

Woodrow said he began taking one day at a time. Those days turned into months and eventual success. He advised those still in the program to do what they're asked.

What got him into the program was possession of methamphetamine. He has turned his life around, is employed and has a good relationship with his 17-year-old son.

During the ceremony, graduate Jill Hoxby fought tears


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as she received her diploma and listened to comments from probation counselor Roberta Powell.
Powell spoke of Hoxby's remarkable change from being like a hermit to becoming a beautiful woman who now chases after her life.

When given a copy of her initial jail booking photo, Hoxby exclaimed the picture was awful and that she's a new person.

"When I came into drug court, I had given up on me," said Hoxby. Referring to public defender Steve Trenholm, who was missing due to a recent accident, she continued, "Steve said he saw something in me that I didn't know I had. Drug court and God show me there's another way."

Quiet and subdued, graduate Kristina Moon shared few words during the ceremony, but she urged others working through the program to be honest.

"If you're honest, they'll help you get through anything, no matter how bad it is," Moon said.

Throughout the ceremony, McLean congratulated each graduate in a unique way, and happily granted an end to their participation in drug court. At times her eyes glistened with tears.

After the ceremony, graduate Nolan Zink beamed excitedly. Inside the courtroom, about a dozen family members and friends had cheered and applauded his long road to victory. It took him three years and two months, but he made it.

Zink said he began using drugs in college, and use quickly became a lifestyle. Then he had a motorcycle accident in 2003 and couldn't walk. His addiction coupled with depression, and he "went south," he said.

For him, the turnaround was after he got into a faith-based recovery program for a year.

"I never had any faith before that, but I began to see people around me who had hope and joy, so I followed their lead."

Zink said he felt great.

"I know that with the goals I set for myself, the world is at my hands now," Zink said. "I have the choice not to go back."

Dan Nelson of the District Attorney's Office said officials in the program are pleased to see the progress the four individuals made.

"They're reconnecting with their families, becoming productive, and getting jobs," Nelson said. "They've become people I would be glad to recommend for employment."

The journey included intensive meetings with Behavioral Health counselors, probation and drug testing, monthly reviews and attendance at self-help meetings.

There were words of advice in a message from Trenholm read by a probation official. He advised them to stay away from people and places where there is drinking and/or drugs. He also reminded them they're not alone, and can get help if they need it in the future.

"We are here," Trenholm stated. "Don't try to do recovery by yourself."


Staff writer Barbara Arrigoni can be reached at 533-3136 or barrigoni@orovillemr.com.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Addiction is a Disease-Marietta Times.com





Matthew Fourman, died Jan. 1 after a long battle with opiate addiction. Fourman’s battle with drugs helped shed light on the problem in Washington County, but it continues to be an issue and resources to help with addiction have been decreasing.
At age 17, Matthew Fourman was popular, living in Devola with his family, attending Marietta High School with plans to go to The Ohio State University.

On New Year's Day, at age 32, Fourman died in a Columbus recovery house after a 15-year battle with opiate addiction.

Between 2001 and 2009, at least 47 Washington County residents have died as a result of drug abuse. Hundreds more have suffered near-fatal overdoses.

For Matt, addiction began late in his high school career after he was prescribed a painkiller for a knee injury incurred while running track.

The disease of addiction took hold and although Matt continued to battle, often publicly, he could never break free from drugs.

"When you are the parent of an addict, you know this could happen, but nothing ever prepares you for the day when the sheriff comes to your door," said the man's mother, Rosie Fourman, of Devola.

During his battle with addiction, Matt also fought to bring change to the local community by participating in a community drug study, calling for increased treatment options, including a recovery house, and allowing himself to be interviewed for a series of articles in The Marietta Times about his struggles with addiction.

Matt's story and his efforts with various recovery groups helped shed light on a serious drug problem affecting many people in the area.

But many of the things Matt and others championed are now gone.

Within the past few years, funding cuts have caused Washington County to lose chemical dependency treatment services at Marietta Memorial Hospital and the county's drug court programs have stopped operating.

"Matt was a kid who had everything going for him and every opportunity available. ... Where are families and addicts going to turn tomorrow when they need help?" Rosie Fourman asked.

Cathy Harper, local program director of The Right Path, said it is hard knowing the local addiction problem hasn't improved, but watching treatment services disappear.

"Addiction is a disease, just like cancer is a disease," she said. "People would be up in arms if there was ever talk about getting rid of cancer treatment options in the area."

The drug court allowed judges to consider treatment for non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems. Most offenders who may have qualified for the program now are sentenced to jail or placed on probation.

The program was operated by Washington County Common Pleas Court and was funded by a three-year, $450,000 federal grant, which expired and could not be renewed.

Last fall, Marietta Memorial Hospital closed its mental health and chemical dependency units, saying they were losing an estimated $500,000 annually.

The loss of a drug court and mental health and addiction services has not only limited options for judges, it also put more pressure on the Washington County Jail. Sheriff's officials have estimated that when the 124-bed facility is full, more than 90 percent of the inmates are there on drug-related charges.

"There is certainly a need for chemical dependency centers," Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said. "We have been hurt by the loss of those services. Actually, we've also been hurt by the loss of mental health services. Chemical dependency and mental health problems often go hand-in-hand."

When the county began the drug court program, there was nearly $70 million available in federal funds to help get courts launched and maintained. Last year, there was less than $4 million available, and most of it was earmarked for communities with high crystal meth problems."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'Treatment Courts' save state money, judges say


By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i court officials, including judges who oversee "treatment courts" that boast high success rates in turning around the lives of criminal offenders, appeared before legislators yesterday to argue that further budget cuts will cost the state more money than it would save.


Circuit Judge Steven Alm, founder and chief advocate of the HOPE probation program, told lawmakers that it costs $1.82 a day to supervise a HOPE probationer but $139 a day to incarcerate the same offender.

The program, which has shown steep drops in criminal recidivism, has gained national attention and is now being emulated in several Mainland jurisdictions.

Drug treatment for HOPE probationers costs $775,000 per year and is "a critical part" of the program, Alm told members of the state House Judiciary Committee.

If that funding is cut, those probationers will have to be jailed or "let out on their own" while they wait to be accepted to a treatment program, Alm said.

According to figures provided to the committee by Tom Mick of the Judiciary's Policy and Planning Department, the annual cost of incarcerating the 1,483 probationers now in HOPE would be $75.2 million.

The committee also heard from judges who oversee Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Girls Court, and the Family and Juvenile Drug Court programs.

All the judges told the committee their programs have been very successful in diverting offenders from continued criminal conduct, saving society millions of dollars that would have been spent on police, prosecution and imprisonment.

Judge Bode Uale, who oversees the Family Drug Court, urged lawmakers not to lose sight of the "human element" of the court's work.

The court not only helps parents with drug problems, who have a recidivism rate of 6 percent, get better, but also allows them to be reunited with their children, Uale said.

Judge Robert Browning, who runs the Juvenile Drug Court, said, "Our program works. It makes a difference."

The juveniles who complete the program "are not just clean and sober, but we demand that they be contributing members of society," Browing said.

Reach Jim Dooley at jdooley@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Juvenile Court Proposal would involve parents, mentors more-islandpacket.com


Juvenile court proposal would involve parents, mentors more
By RENEE DUDLEY
rdudley@islandpacket.com
843-706-8138
Published Saturday, January 16, 2010
Comments (6) | Recommend (1)Email Article | Print Article | Feeds | | Search the Archive
Juvenile offenders present unique challenges for law enforcement, officials say.

Like adult offenders, they often face substance abuse or mental health issues, according to data.

But unlike adults, juveniles have -- or are supposed to have -- other people accept responsibility for them.

With that in mind, officials in the 14th Judicial Circuit are working to create a new juvenile court program that would require increased involvement from parents, schools, mentors and counselors in hopes of stemming substance abuse and future misconduct among juvenile offenders.

Family Court Judge Peter Fuge and 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone both support the change, which would require a group of juvenile offenders to appear in court once a week with their guardians and counselors to prove they're making positive changes. Fuge and assistant solicitor Carson Sowell Twombley -- who would direct the new program -- predicted Friday that about 30 juveniles would be in the program at any given time.

The Solicitor's Office has applied for three grants to get the program started. The estimated cost of running the new court for a year is about $190,000, Solicitor's Office spokesman Daniel Brownstein said. Officials will learn whether they've received the grants in late spring, Brownstein said.

Fuge wants to begin the program in July.

Regardless of grant funding, the court will open -- even if it must be on a smaller scale than officials would like, Fuge said.

"It's necessary. Beaufort County is behind the curve on this one," he said.

HOW IT WOULD WORK

Under the current system, juvenile offenders who plead guilty may be sentenced to serve time at a juvenile facility in Columbia.

The judge also could choose to place the offender on probation, requiring community service, curfews and drug counseling, among other possibilities. The child generally is required to appear before a judge only several times, Fuge said.

But existing sentencing options often are unable to address underlying problems young offenders face, Fuge, solicitor Stone and assistant solicitor Sowell Twombley said.

The new Beaufort County Juvenile Multi-Disciplinary Court could offer a way to address those problems, they said.

Here's how the program would work:

Offenders must be younger than 18, live in Beaufort County, be charged with a non-violent criminal offense in the county, have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or mental or behavioral health issues and indicate a willingness to change their behavior, according to a participant handbook.

Offenders may volunteer or be recommended for the program and must sign a contract saying they'll comply with its terms.

The program, which would take about one year for most offenders to complete, requires weekly appearances before a judge and has three phases.

In the first phase, participants must submit to regular drug and alcohol tests and counseling, according to the handbook. They're also required to submit to a 6 p.m. curfew and participate in a court-approved extra-curricular activity, such as a school sport or a church group, the handbook says.

For their court appearances, boys are required to wear a collared shirt and tie; girls are required to wear a blouse and pants or knee-length skirt. Jeans, flip-flops and hats are not allowed, according to the handbook. Participants are required to pay a weekly $5 court fee.

Participants must continue testing, counseling and activities in the second and third phases, proving to the judge weekly that they're making progress. The judge could grant later curfews or require less frequent court appearances, among other incentives, to successful participants.

Participants who fail to comply with the terms of the program risk failing it and could face time in a detention center, the handbook says.

Counselors and guardians also must report to the judge at the weekly appearances. For example, a school representative would tell the judge whether the child had unexcused absences, while a counselor would report results of a drug test. Guardians also would report to the judge about the child's behavior. Parents who fail to attend the hearings could face jail time, Fuge said.

The program is aimed at addressing the problems that led to the offenders' drug use in the first place by giving them immediate treatment and structure, Fuge and Sowell Twombley said. If it works as they hope, graduating from the program could strengthen the offenders' family structures and increase their chances of graduating from high school, they said.

"Because of the people we're dealing with, you have to define your own success," Fuge said. "They've got no money, poor housing, only a few have intact families. ... The name of the game is getting them through high school."

The prototype for the local program is modeled on the nationally recognized juvenile drug court in Charleston -- a system that Fuge, Stone and Sowell Twombley have observed in session.

"It's amazing," Fuge said. "At graduation, they get a certificate and everyone's clapping for them. It's the first time in this kid's life they did something positive."

But not everyone graduates from the program.

Fuge said he would consider the program a success if 15 participants a year graduate

Sowell Twombley said even 10 graduates would be a "huge success."

Graduates of the program are less likely to commit more crimes, according to research gathered by the Solicitor's Office. There is only a five percent rate of recidivism among Charleston's drug court graduates, according to the research.

Reduced recidivism means money saved in the long run, Fuge said.

"It could stop the revolving door into the criminal justice system," he said."

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Norman Transcript-Parents Helping Parents hosts fourth seminar

Published January 14, 2010 12:15 am - Norman's Parents Helping Parents will host the fourth installment of its six-part series on "What I Wish I Had Known as a Parent," focusing on drug and alcohol abuse among young people 7 p.m. today at the Norman Public Schools Administration's Curriculum Building, 131 S.

Parents Helping Parents hosts fourth seminar


Transcript Staff


Norman's Parents Helping Parents will host the fourth installment of its six-part series on "What I Wish I Had Known as a Parent," focusing on drug and alcohol abuse among young people 7 p.m. today at the Norman Public Schools Administration's Curriculum Building, 131 S. Flood Ave.


The session will be about navigating the legal system if a child becomes involved.

Panelists will include Golda Long from the Cleveland County District Attorney's office, Jim Sweetwood and Randy Sheppard from the Juvenile Services Unit, and Juvenile Drug Court Administrator Pamela Smizer.

For more information, call 278-1221 or e-mail PHPnorman1@yahoo.com.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Drug Court Alums Lend a Helping Hand

(Click on title to view entire article)


"Drug court alums offer a helping hand: Graduates of Nez Perce County program want to help other addicts in transition [The Lewiston Morning Tribune, Idaho]
Jan. 3--Kanela credits her support network for the transformation from a drug addict to a leader.

That support from Nez Perce County's drug court program has led to 20 months of sobriety for the 23-year-old Lewiston woman, and a desire to offer her own stepping stone of help to addicts in need.

"I took and took from this community for so long," said Kanela, now a drug court alumna, "and (this is) the only way to give back to society."

She has joined forces with fellow drug court graduates to form their own support group. Called A New Way, the drug court graduates banded together in July as another leg of support for near-graduates who face diminishing supervision as they go through drug court

phases.

"When we all started doing drug court, we didn't have anyone to help us or guide us," said Kanela, the informal leader of A New Way. Anonymity is paramount to the group, and members only know each other on a first-name basis."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Star Beacon-Ashtabula,Ohio-Drug Court Honors First Grads




Published January 12, 2010 08:28 pm - A clean slate and a fresh start were awarded to two young women who were the first to graduate from the Ashtabula County Drug Court program.

Drug Court honors first grads
Treatment program offers lesser offenders a clean start

By ELLEN KOLMAN - Staff Writer - ekolman@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon


JEFFERSON — A clean slate and a fresh start were awarded to two young women who were the first to graduate from the Ashtabula County Drug Court program.


“This is a big accomplishment, something I’ve never been able to complete before,” said one of the graduates who wished to remain anonymous. “Everyone involved really helped and I am willing and eager to improve my life. It is hard work, but it (Drug Court) does work if you want it,” she said at Tuesday’s graduation.

Ashtabula County Drug Court consists of a group of people who volunteer their time to give people who have been convicted of a lesser felony drug charge a chance to be helped with the payoff of a clean record, said Lake Area Recovery Center Director Kathleen Kinney.

“This gives people, usually first-time offenders, the chance to plead guilty and be accepted into drug court, then they get into treatment, and are regularly accountable to the judge,” Kinney said. “We receive no monetary assistance or wages for this program.”

The drug court consists of Kinney, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Tom Sartini, Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court Judge Alfred Mackey, LARC Clinical Director Ana Canales, Ashtabula County Public Defenders Office Director Marie Lane,, Brett Kiser of the Ashtabula County Probation Departmen and Kim Massery, admissions director of the Northeast Ohio Community Alternative Program.

Sartini and Mackey spearheaded the Drug Court initiative, which is 14 months old, but was an eight-year struggle to begin.

“We are very proud of our first graduates and hopefully through their hard work following the program and the drug court team’s commitment, these young women have the tools to become productive members of society,” Sartini said.

There are now more than 30 participants in Drug Court.

“Judge Mackey is motivated and I cannot give him enough credit,” Sartini said. “Even though we had no money for Drug Court, we knew it was needed and decided to go ahead and see what happens.”

“The program is individualized treatment plan to fit the person’s needs, and it is very hard work and lasts a minimum of one year,” Mackey said.

The team determines the suitability of an individual for the program, who must first undergo gal and chemical evaluations. Violent offenders, drug traffickers, or DUI offenders (driving while intoxicated) are not permitted.

The treatment program includes the collaborative efforts of local agencies, including mental health services, family counseling, anger management, drug treatment programs which may include in-patient treatment (NEOCAP), and more.

“They must attend meetings four times a week, meet with their probation officer, work their treatment plan and appear before the judge at regular intervals,” Kinney said. “In the beginning they have to see the judge once a week, but as they make progress those appointments are less.”

“This is a holistic approach,” Canales said. “Usually people hide from law enforcement, but now they realize this is a friendly approach with people who care and our prosecuter has demonstrated such a heart for this program.”

Individuals enrolled in the program who are not doing well will have sanctions imposed. including being set back in the program or more frequent visits to the judge, placed in NEOCAP, jail time or dismissal from the program with their sentence imposed, Mackey said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Allen Court an Exception


It works, says judge, contrary to most results in a national report.

By Aaron Organ
of The News-Sentinel
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a 78-page report last month, two years in the making, on problem-solving courts, or drug courts. The report listed their suggestions for reform.

The report was as comprehensive as it was critical, denouncing the specialized courts and accusing most of the 2,100 around the country of having evolved from a path to addiction treatment to an obstacle blocking a drug user's way.

Drug courts, on the whole, are geared to convictions and jail time rather than rehabilitation and the criminal intervention methods they were intended to produce, the study suggests. It claims the courts have had little to no effect on halting the rise of drug abuse and the ever-growing costs taxpayers face when abusers are imprisoned.

That is the report's assessment of most drug courts.

Fran Gull, Allen Superior Court's drug court judge, says her court falls in the minority.

“Our goal is to treat the addict, and to steer the addict toward rehabilitation with the belief being, once we treat the addiction, that takes care of the criminal behavior,” said Gull. “The whole goal is to prevent future crime by treating the addiction.”

Drug courts were created as a response to the drug-related criminal cases that filled courts and prisons with addicts, not criminals. The first was started in Miami in 1989. The report, titled “America's Problem-Solving Courts: The Criminal Costs of Treatment and the Case for Reform,” insists that methodology got lost somewhere along the way.

“Drug courts were intended as a reform,” said Cynthia Orr, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “Unfortunately, many of these courts are conviction mills, which treat substance abusers as criminals and give them access to criminal treatment only if they admit guilt and require a criminal record.”

That condition applies to Gull's court, too, which requires all potential entrants to plead guilty, with the counsel of an attorney. The plea is required to establish what Gull called “factual basis.” An individual must admit he or she has a problem, and must identify the substance to which he or she is addicted.

But even all that doesn't guarantee entry.

A thorough assessment is conducted by drug court staff, which is composed of four case managers, Gull, two field officers, the director of criminal division services, the assistant director of criminal division services, two treatment providers, the defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney. This process is designed to weed out unqualified criminals, because only addicts are invited in.

The referral into Gull's drug court is done by the prosecuting attorney, typically within two weeks of the person's arrest, when treatment can be most effective for the addict.

After all that, acceptance into drug court is the easy part.

The 18-to-24-month program, made up of three phases, is a grueling test of will, commitment and drive to become healthy. It's also far more than simply a drug program, Gull says.

“It's a lot of hard work, and I tell them, ‘We're going to support you through it, but I can't do it. You have to do it. We're here to support you, to guide you, to give you encouragement, to smack you when you need to get smacked and praise you when you deserve it.'”

Rarely are two cases alike. Because crimes ranging from prostitution to theft to forgery to possession are accepted, the treatments, programs and sanctions that are ordered vary.

After a person is accepted, the courts refer him or her for treatment to area health and rehabilitation providers, such as Park Center, the Bowen Center, Family & Children's Services Inc. or Peace Counseling Inc., among others.

Every person who is a part of drug court is assigned a color, and every morning that person must call the court. If the person hears the assigned color on the message, he or she must drop everything and get to court immediately for testing.

Anyone who fails is sanctioned. Sanctions can range from community service, additional meetings, jail time or revocation from the drug court program.

But there are also rewards. Gull said participants can receive verbal praise in court, have a case pushed to the front of the drug court docket for trial or receive a gift certificate to an area store.

Drug court is a path of meetings, support groups, treatment centers, court and testing. As people move through the program, their supervision lessens. They're required to meet less and attend court less.

Gull said 411people have graduated from her drug court since its inception in 1997. “That's really good,” she says.

But it's more than just those 411, Gull said. It's the number of drug-free babies born to them, the number of GEDs attained, the number of better jobs the participants have gotten. That's the goal of drug court.

“You get into that cycle of drugs and alcohol, drugs and alcohol, and I can't tell you how many folks I get that come into drug court that don't know how to write a check, that don't know how to balance a checkbook, that don't know how to parent their children because they were never parented very well,” Gull said.

“Once we get them clean and sober, then we have to train them.”

“We are, and I believe this and I've been told this by state authorities, one of the best drug courts in the state.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Schools to hold Parent Forum on Drug Abuse

Schools to hold parent forum on drug abuse
Panel discussion comes after recent teen deaths


RELATED CONTENT
Click here for more information on the forum.
By Stephen Gurr
sgurr@gainesvilletimes.com

POSTED Jan. 10, 2010 11:16 p.m.


Evan Waggoner’s death two months ago from a suspected pill overdose was part of a disturbing local trend.


The 18-year-old Flowery Branch High School graduate was the second South Hall teen to die from abusing prescription drugs in 45 days. A third Hall County teen died in 2009 from suspected alcohol poisoning.


With prescription drug abuse on the rise among teens, Hall County Schools and Gainesville City Schools are hosting a pair of parental forums later this month to address youth substance abuse.


“I think it’s time that we take this seriously,” said Evan’s father, Jeff Waggoner, who was not directly involved with planning the forums but plans to be in the audience. “People need to realize this silent killer is out there — it’s in your medicine cabinet, in the kitchen cabinets, in the vanities. And the kids experimenting with this stuff come from every background possible.”


Waggoner said he learned from his son’s friends that he was “eating” as many as 10 pills at a time. While the results of toxicology tests are still pending, the narcotic painkiller Darvocet is the drug suspected of causing his death, Waggoner said.


“These kids are experimenting with something when they have no idea what it will do to their bodies,” Waggoner said.


This month’s forums will include a discussion panel made up of people from the judicial system, mental health and treatment services, recovery community, school officials, the clergy, counselors, law enforcement and youth. Hall County Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau will serve as moderator.


“Children rarely, if ever, fully understand the risks of drug abuse,” Girardeau said. “Those who use at an early age associate it only with having a good time. It is our responsibility as parents, teachers, and others who have influence to be sure our children receive accurate information and good guidance so that they may be fully informed of the real risks of drug use.”


Girardeau, as the founder of Hall County’s felony drug court, is well familiar with those risks.


“I have never met anyone who intended to become a drug addict, but know many who have,” the judge said.


Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said school officials know drug abuse is a threat to all students, regardless of social status.


“As a school system we are committed to these forums as an important step in empowering students, families, schools and outside agencies to link arms in combating the perils of substance abuse for our children,” Schofield said.


Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer agreed that drug abuse is a problem that “devastates lives and impacts all groups in our society.”


“As a community, we must protect our children from harm,” she said. “Together, we can take action that will ensure every child will have a bright future. The time is now.”


Surveys show more teens are turning to prescription drugs as the use of tobacco and alcohol is on the decline.


“If we are going to reverse the trends that we are currently seeing, we must begin educating ourselves about the latest developments in drug use,” said Carol Ann Ligon, the coordinator of Hall County’s Safe and Drug Free Schools program.


The forums will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 19 at Gainesville State College’s continuing education building and from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 21 at Gainesville High School’s performing arts center.


While the recent teen deaths may not be discussed at the forums, they are sure to be on the minds of many.


“Hopefully the deaths of these boys will cause others to think a little bit about this,” Jeff Waggoner said. “I’m glad they’re taking the initiative to get this information out to parents, and I hope parents will take it seriously enough to come out and listen.”

Advocates Rue Loss of Drug Court

Advocates rue loss of drug court
By PEGGY SENZARINO, peggy.senzarino@globegazette.com

Judge James DrewMASON CITY — People connected with the Community Drug Court in Mason City say the state is being penny-wise and pound foolish in cutting the program in light of the state’s economic problems.

“What’s frustrating is that I understand that sometimes across-the-board cuts just have to be done,” said Judge James Drew. “There is no other way to do something quickly.

“But I don’t think there is any question that drug court was saving the state of Iowa money, and more importantly it was literally saving lives,” Drew said.

Mason City’s Community Drug Court was cut effective Jan. 1, a victim of dwindling state funds, according to Linda Murken, director of the Second Judicial District Department of Correctional Services.

“What we had to look at quite frankly was saving money and looking at the number of people programs serve,” Murken said.

About $1.1 million was cut from the district’s budget through unpaid furloughs, holding positions vacant and some reduction in treatment programs.

The Community Drug Court provided intensive supervision, accountability and treatment to drug offenders who may be in their homes, at treatment centers or in minimum security facilities such as Beje Clark Residential Facility in Mason City.

The average offender sentenced to drug court was in the program 18 months.

A participant agreed to complete drug treatment, maintain employment and a stable home environment and remain drug and alcohol free.

Community panels made up of North Iowa residents monitored the participants progress, providing advice and resources when needed.

“We very successfully worked with higher risk offenders whose criminal behavior stemmed from abuse of substances,” Murken said.

“The program was targeted toward treatment and holding them accountable with intensive supervision and intensive treatment.”

The community panels held “people’s feet to the fire,” he said.

Drug court in Mason City was serving about 25 people when the program was cut.

Murken said the people who were in the program as of Dec. 31 will continue to receive supervision and substance abuse treatment services.

“We will do our best for them and by them,” Murken said.

But the community panels which provided support and accountability are gone.

Lionel Foster was been a drug court panel member since the program started in Mason City nearly nine years ago.

Foster said the program costs the state about $100,000 but it saves between $30,000 and $35,000 per participant by keeping them out of prison.

“It wasn’t a very expensive program compared to what we were saving the state by keeping the individuals out of jail,” Foster said.

Drug court was a last stop for high-risk offenders who would normally be on their way to prison.

“The human side of it is that those individuals decided that our program helped them to get clean and become productive citizens, Foster said.

“Just sticking people in prison or in an institution really doesn’t help them in the end unless they are really bad people.”

Murken said about 50 percent of the people who entered drug court completed the program.

“It was successful because it was an alternative to simply sending people with addiction issues to prison,” said Judge Drew. “It was an intensive probation program with a treatment component to it.

“You know, not everybody got through it, but a lot of people did. These people are now leading productive lives as tax-paying citizens,” Drew said.

Jay Hansen, director of Prairie Ridge Addiction Treatment Services in Mason City, said it is unfortunate that the program was cut.

“This provided a forum for both the criminal justice system and the treatment community and community panel members to give people who were interested in recovery some chances to help them avoid jail,” Hansen said.

Murken said if and when the situation improves, she hopes the department can consider reinstating the drug court.

“When it does happen I really hope that we do look at the programming that we suspended or stopped doing, what things had the most promise, the best outcome and then look at those and do some prioritizing.”

Shelby County Drug Court Task Force Looking for New Ways to Keep the Program Going


Reported by: Allison Sossaman
Email: asossaman@myeyewitnessnews.com
Last Update: 1/07 7:46 pm


Over the last 12 years, the Shelby County Drug Court has helped thousands of addicts get out of jail and back into society. Now the program needs more money, and that's the job new Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford has turned over to a task force. It met today for the first time.

"The benefit of the community is I'm no longer breaking into your houses,” said former drug addict and Drug Court graduate James Long. “I'm no longer stealing your gas. I'm no longer taking advantage of whatever I can off you in the street. I'm trying to do what I'm doing today."

Long says he's proof Drug Court gets results.

"When you've lived on the streets for years,” Long said. “I was a heroin addict, it takes everything away from you."

He says the program gave him his life back. Now he's part of the task force trying to keep the program alive.

Judge Tim Dwyer founded the Drug Court in 1997.

"It's one of the few things in the criminal justice system that's really working," Dwyer said.

The hardest part has been how to pay for it.

"It's like a roller coaster,” said Dwyer. “There's been times we've had to cut back on the number of people that needed the program because we didn't have the money. So if we can get consistent funding on this, we're going to really do some great things."

The task force needs to find more money or the court could lose one of its six employees and the ability to carry that counselor's huge caseload.

"Quite frankly, we just don't have the revenue to support all that needs to be done to address some of these social issues we're facing,” said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell. “So we've got to start looking for revenue streams outside of the established protocols."

The Sheriff says the drug court can save us money in the end.

"One of the things we've got to do is, as our jail population grows, not necessarily look at building bigger jails,” Luttrell said. “But look at what we can do better through other resources to curtail that growing tide of inmates."

James Long says he's one less inmate our tax dollars have to pay for.

"It holds you accountable,” Long said. “And if you stay clean long enough, then your brain comes back and you can rock and roll again."

It costs less than 10 dollars a day to put one person in drug court. It cost about $100 a day to pay for someone in the jail. Those who don't go through the program are far more likely to re-offend than those who do.

Just over 500 people graduated from the Drug Court program last year.

Juvenile Court Helps Kids Kick Tough Addictions

MANSFIELD -- Cassandra Douglas was 12 when she was first arrested, after breaking into a Mansfield laundromat with her friends. Seven years and numerous painkillers, opiates and rehab centers later, she said she finally is clean.




"Everybody in my family pretty much has a drug of choice," Douglas, now 18 and living in Bloomville, said recently. "I just got sick of the lifestyle."

For a while, by her own admission, Douglas was on her way to becoming another statistic. She was one of the scores of teens (and younger) who are charged in Richland County each year with some kind of drug-related offense, from getting caught with a dime bag of marijuana at school to more serious crimes, such as selling. Authorities filed 305 such charges in 2003; last year that number dropped to 178. Yet, in that same time the number of those assigned to the county's juvenile drug court -- about 40, yearly -- has remained the same.

Like its adult counterpart, local officials save juvenile drug court for the most hardcore cases of drug abuse; recreational users and those smoking their first joint in the bathroom at a weekend high school party need not apply.

"It's merely a recognition that there are a significant number of kids that have entrenched addictions," Juvenile Court Judge Ron Spon said. "We see a lot of kids that are simply self-medicating."

Douglas was one of the tougher cases. Abandoned by her mother as an infant and with a father in and out of state penitentiaries, she began smoking marijuana before she was a teenager. She would disappear from her grandparents' home, where she was staying, for long stretches. At one point she escaped from Maryhaven, a treatment center in Marion, by scaling a fence.

"I mainly went to school through the court system," Douglas said.

At age 16, Douglas cleaned up long enough to get her GED, but the death of her grandfather that year led to a relapse. Now, three rehabs and three felonies later, the county went for one of the last resorts: state committal. She was sent to Ohio Department of Youth Services' Freedom Center, a 24-bed facility for habitually-using females in Delaware, where, after six months of treatment, she finally was released last year.

"A lot of it was Amy," Douglas said, referring to Amy Bargahiser, the probation officer who often deals with the tougher cases the court sees. "She'd always tell me, 'You're not going to die on my watch,' and come back and cry with me in my cell.' "

Judge Spon said most often personal success depends on commitment.

"Kids can do well if they don't give up," Spon said. "(Douglas) was one of the ones that didn't."

Spon has been at the helm of the juvenile drug court since its inception, in 1998, thanks to a state grant. He said the court has been a success, with consistently 60 percent of participants not testing positive for drugs for the average 12-month stay in the program. About 80 percent of participants don't backslide within three months after graduation.

"I get to develop a relationship with the kid," Spon said. "For one thing, we don't automatically hammer on them if they fail. We're looking for progress."

Rudolph Alexander, who has studied drug courts and their effectiveness as a professor at The Ohio State University, said when dealing with kids or adults, the approach is generally the same.

"It works because it's specialized," Alexander said. "The emphasis is on treatment."

Despite the experts and recidivism numbers, a majority of teens who enter drug court will fail, at least the first time. In 2008, for example, 8 of the 13 juveniles who entered eventually had their participation terminated. Spon said that's par for the course.

"I tell them that the bottom line is that continued use is not acceptable," Spon said. "If they do not fully engage themselves, I'll give them all the trouble I can."

Now living in Seneca County with a boyfriend and his family, Douglas' ongoing struggle to stay on top of her addictions has been helped by the boyfriend and the change in scenery. Now she's an evangelist for treatment and volunteers her story to other teenagers. She freely admits she's not totally free from treatment, seeing a therapist once or twice a month.

"You're still a human being," Douglas said.

eshilling@gannett.com
419-521-7205

Drug Court Judge-a Marathoner-Holds Addicts Feet to the Fire-St.Petersburg Times

CLEARWATER Even in her judicial robes, Judge Dee Anna Farnell has that marathoner look. She projects a lean physicality and speed, thinks and talks fast, is quick to get in close. She takes pride in staying one step ahead of a phony story. Farnell has run 30 marathons. She runs her 14th Boston in April. She posts T-shirt race numbers on her courtroom wall. The numbers aren't hers. They belong to men and women recovering from addictions to everything chemical — pot, crack, prescription pills — who pile out of a Goodwill van at 6 a.m. three times a week to run laps in the dark. Farnell's Pinellas County Drug Court is an alternative to criminal court, an offer of treatment instead of prison to nonviolent offenders. It's a velvet fist approach. The failures go back to criminal court. But since 2008, it's also a locker room of sorts for a running team. Back then, Farnell heard about a running group made up of offenders she had referred to the St. Petersburg Goodwill for treatment. They ran with their counselors on the old Friendship Trail Bridge on Gandy Boulevard. The judge encouraged other defendants to join the runners. In 2009, she offered a legal enticement. She promised runners a break on court costs and early completion of probation. The Goodwill group began running under an acronym: CLEAN — Citizens Learning to End Addiction Now. They don't call themselves that. They say it plain, no pretenses. They're Farnell's drug court running team. They're running from rock bottom, from jail sentences, from their thousand failures and their thousand broken promises. Running for their lives. It was the eve of Christmas Eve in drug court. Dustin Zimmerman and Joshua Ward waited for Farnell to tell them where they'd spend Christmas. It could be the St. Petersburg Goodwill, where Farnell recently sent them for treatment. But more likely it would be jail, because both guys tested positive for drugs after promising the judge they'd stay clean. First, they had to hear a Christmas carol. Defendants under treatment at Goodwill came to court wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers. Many of them were runners. They wanted to serenade Farnell with their tune, The Twelve Days of Treatment. "Five months of planning!" "Six months of rehab!" "Seven second chances!" The judge cheered. "Merry Christmas!" she said, "but don't be too merry!" The errant newcomers Zimmerman and Ward came up next. Perhaps the singing had softened her. But the judge met them at the "F" door, the door that leads to the holding cages, looking ready to pounce. Typically, she refuses to sit on the bench. She prefers to stalk the floor, to confront defendants inches from their faces. "Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Ward, why are you back here?" They each mumbled they'd tested positive. She looked angry. "You looked me right in the face last time. You told me you'd stay clean." Farnell began to pace. "The foundation of this program is based on what?" They didn't answer. "Does someone else want to answer that?" She looked straight at Daniel Doukas in the front row. Doukas has been a regular presence in drug court since 2006. His record is filled with personal tragedy and relapses. He's doing much better now. Doukas once lied to her like Ward and Zimmerman did. Farnell asked him to tell them what she did about it. "She put me in a holding cell," he said. "She kept me there until I told the truth. Honesty is real important in this courtroom. She actually cares. She's giving you a chance to stay out of prison. If you lie to her, she sees it as a slap in her face." Ward and Zimmerman hung their heads. Farnell pointed them to the "F" door. "Normally, you go in there and you don't come out," she said. "I'm going to think about this. I'll bring you back in a while." • • • The Goodwill runners get a van ride to Crescent Lake about three mornings a week. They run three laps around the lake under the street lights, spread out, huffing past dog walkers. They're done and gone by 7 a.m. They talk about how running gives them time to think, to clear their heads. Angela Richardson, 33, was at that rock-bottom stage when Farnell persuaded her to try. She agreed because Farnell had given her "chance after chance." She found running around the lake gave her peace. "Running and recovery involve mind, body and spirit," she said. She has numbers from three races to post on Farnell's wall. She ran the Times Turkey Trot 5K in 24:10, her best time. Tony Harris, 38, said he used to focus on his withdrawal pain when he ran. The first month, he couldn't complete a lap. As he detoxed and his body adapted to running, other senses awakened. "I could hear the birds in the trees. I saw the sun rise. I'd never seen the sun so big and so low. It just blew my mind." He began to preach running to other recovering addicts. He latched on to Josh Scheaffer, 23, who brought up the rear on the morning runs. "I got all over him," he said. "I beat him down." Scheaffer dug in. He broke into the lead in practices. He ran the November Times Turkey Trot in 21:55. He has three race numbers on Farnell's court wall. Stephen D'Andrea, 24, ran the Turkey Trot in Clearwater beside Farnell. They loped along after the race. Farnell stopped to say hello to a cop. D'Andrea lowered his head and kept running. That was his arresting officer. Farnell called after him, "The cops are your friends now." D'Andrea had a heroin addiction. A student in culinary school, he weighed 130 pounds when arrested, then ballooned to 190 pounds on jail food. When he got to Farnell's court, he faced three to five years. He told her, "I just want to do my time." The judge agreed to send him over. But not right away. "Go back to jail and think about it." He stewed in jail. When he came back to Farnell, he asked for the residential treatment at Goodwill. By then it was summer. The team was running in the afternoons at Weedon Island. It often got up to 100. D'Andrea could barely run. He began to see everything tied together. His addiction, his inability to run, weren't just physical problems. So he chose to try. He came back to court after the Times Turkey Trot. Farnell announced he was enrolling at the University of South Florida to study chemical engineering. • • • On the eve of Christmas Eve, Farnell let her two promise-breakers, Dustin Zimmerman and Joshua Ward, worry in a cell for about two hours. Then she called them back out through the "F" door. At the same time, she called forward one of the Twelve Days of Treatment carolers, Stefan Gollner. He shared a room at Goodwill with both men. He told Farnell that he knew they'd screwed up, but Zimmerman had helped out at AA meetings and looked willing to try. He said Ward suffered the same pill addiction he had. "He needs treatment." Farnell turned to the two. "What do you want to tell me?" she asked. "I was scared," Zimmerman said. "If I were to send you through that door, you'd stay." She hesitated. Part of her wanted to jail them. But if she did, they'd lose their place in treatment, probably for months. That was a big punishment for one lie. "Don't ever do this again," she said finally. "I don't care how well you're doing at Goodwill. Don't ever violate my trust." They got a ride back to Goodwill with the runners. John Barry can be reached at jbarry@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2258. [Last modified: Jan 02, 2010 03:31 AM]
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Drug Court Offers Alternative

NEWS-TIMES
Published: Friday, December 25, 2009 3:05 PM EST
HELEN OUTLAND

BEAUFORT — John Doe stood before the judge in a special court for nonviolent drug offenders, head hung low.

The man, whose name was changed at the court’s request for this story, has a history of drug abuse and related crimes and was in Carteret County Close Watch Drug Treatment Court, known as Drug Court.

The court is an alternative program with the goal of helping nonviolent offenders with drug or alcohol addictions arrested on drug-related charges break the grip of addiction, turn their lives around and keep them out of jail.

Mr. Doe has been in the program five months and, until recently, did fairly well. But for this session of court he went to great lengths to falsify his drug test. Although he pleaded for consideration and leniency, he is dismissed from the program.

Superior Court Judge Ken Crow presided over the session of Drug Court. He told Mr. Doe the decision to dismiss him is no harder on him than on the court. However, the judge didn’t make the dismissal decision alone, but in collaboration with a Drug Court staff and, he said, the staff may sometimes be tougher than the judge.

“I only preside over the court, any decisions per a case are made by all the staff, not just by me,” he said. “Sometimes decisions are made that are difficult for all of us and that is demonstrated in court today.”

The Drug Court staff includes Coordinator Lynn Holton, assistant defense attorney Katharine Taylor, public defender Jane Burke, Probation Officer James McCormick, Chief Probation Officer Ben Urick and Nikki Wilson of the N.C. Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC).

Judge Crow told Mr. Doe he had been doing fairly well and the program’s goal is to help.

“But we expect the offender to show up, man up if they have slipped and suck it up when a sanction is handed down,” he said. “Most of all we expect everyone to be honest.”

Sanctions can range from jail time to dismissal from the program. In a recent visit to that court by The News-Times, the defendants’ names were withheld. In their continuing efforts to change life styles and overcome, it is important the defendants’ be protected from public pressure or misguided opinion.

TASC provides care management services to people with substance abuse or mental illness and is involved in the justice system. It combines the influence of legal sanctions with treatment and support services to permanently interrupt the cycle of addiction and crime.

In addition to Mr. Doe, the Drug Court staff has handed down sanctions against two other offenders who admitted they have slipped prior to court. One used a cold medication not allowed by the guidelines and the second had taken a prescription painkiller for a toothache.

Although they received 72 hours in jail, their overall performance and honesty prevented them from getting kicked out of the program.

A third defendant, Jane Doe, was also in court, but she was an apparent success. As she went before Judge Crow, he and the staff commended her on her achievement in Drug Court and she was greeted with a round of applause.

“You have worked hard and demonstrated your willingness to overcome and we are proud of you,” Judge Crow told her. “We know you have some stresses on you, but you have chosen to deal with them in a positive way.”

He presented her with a gold coin to acknowledge her achievement.

“I had been clean 12 years,” Ms. Doe said in an interview. “I slipped and I got arrested. This court has been a blessing and I remain clean. “

She said it isn’t the coin that is as important as the pride she feels in her accomplishment.

“I have no family here, no one to talk to and I felt like no one cared about me. So I reverted back to cocaine for comfort,” she said. “But this group has a way of making you feel good about yourself and making me feel I want to help others, too. With their support, I am stronger.”

Ms. Doe said she pays her accomplishment forward and now helps others.

“My phone rings all the time with cries for help,” She said. “And that is fine. They need help I need to help them, too.”

Along with the gold coin, incentives for achievement can range from gift certificates, recognition, reduced court appearances, reduced court fees, modification in parole and even a party. These incentives are part of the comprehensive and individualized treatment the court offers the abuse offender, all at a minimal cost to the community.

“All the members of this court are volunteers and do not get paid for our contribution,” Judge Crow said.

Drug Court is in its 10th year of service. Superior Court Judge James Reagan started drug Court in Carteret and Craven counties in 1999.

In a recent phone interview, Judge Reagan said repeat offenders were coming before him to face drug-related charges, but they were denying a problem with drug or alcohol abuse.

“With the inception of drug testing analysis, it was evident they were using consistently and by the time the courts caught them most had been long-term users,” he said. “These individuals could be a one-man crime spree to support their habit but, for some, sending them to jail was not the only alternative.”

The judge said he became aware of a system in use in courts in Charlotte and Greensboro that provided an alternate solution to jail.

“We went and observed what they were doing and got the training to initiate the same system locally,” he said.

According to Judge Reagan, some repeat offenders do not have criminal minds but have gotten caught up in failure and a negative lifestyle.

“We recognized this and saw they would probably respond better with a structured setup applicable to their circumstances,” he said. “We knew we were battling drugs or alcohol abuse and it was not going to be cured overnight. There were going to be setbacks. We understood this and considered it when possible. We started the program and it has worked. We are thrilled every time an offender successfully completes this program.”

Offenders become eligible for the court if they are on supervised probation and show evidence of substance abuse issues that may interfere with the ability to successfully complete probation. Program participants are 16 years of age and older, not a registered sex or violent offender and have no pending charges that would impact their ability to complete the program.

By integrating court monitoring, intensive community supervision, regular drug testing, court team decision-making and consistent implementation of sanctions and incentives, the court meets the needs of the offender and reduces the cost burden on the taxpayer, too. It cost $30,000 annually for the state to house one offender in prison.

The requirements of Drug Court include attending and completing a minimum of one year in a drug treatment program, twice monthly court appearances, attend Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, set goals for education and employment.

“The public says these offenders have created their problem,” Judge Reagan said. “That may be true, but for those of us who have dealt with it on a professional or even a personal basis we have a different understanding.”

Close Watch Drug Court meets on the first and third Friday every month. A morning session is held in Craven County with the afternoon session held in the afternoon in Carteret County.

Drug Court Graduates get 2nd Chance at Better Life

Dec. 24--By all accounts, the Alantha Calloway who wiped her eyes during Wednesday's Charlottesville/ Albemarle Adult Drug Treatment Court graduation wasn't the same woman who entered the program nearly two years ago.

The city native said she had been using drugs and alcohol since she was about 13.

"You think your life is supposed to stay like that forever," she said.

Calloway was charged with drug possession in November 2007 and entered drug court a month later. Her initial noncompliance resulted in jail time. During a three-month sentence in 2008, Calloway gave birth.

"I did a lot of thinking about what I really want for myself and my children," said Calloway of her time in the hospital while giving birth. "I always thought I was a good mother, but I really wasn't. I wanted a better life."

Calloway, 30, said she hadn't accomplished anything until Wednesday, when she stood in front of the Charlottesville Circuit Courtroom with her fellow graduates as a part of the drug court's 100th graduation ceremony.

Drug court is an intensive program for non-violent drug offenders that includes regular drug testing, therapy, court appearances and keeping a job or staying in school. Participants must meet certain requirements to enter and must plead guilty to the offense. After a year of sobriety and no violations, graduates can have their case dismissed or receive a reduced sentence.

Jeff Gould, drug court administrator, said participants initially undergo daily drug testing and several therapy sessions a week through Region Ten Community Services Board. Over time, participants move through four phases of treatment that include a decreasing number of interventions.

Failure to comply with the program leads to immediate sanctions, which include jail time. Gould said officials acknowledge that relapse is part of an addict's recovery, but sanctions acknowledge that drug use is a behavior that they are trying to discourage. Participants can get four sanctions before they may be removed from the program.

The program also includes rewards, Gould said, which can be verbal praise or a small prize.

"We know from research that four affirmatives have more impact than one negative," Gould said.

Denise Lunsford, the commonwealth's attorney in Albemarle County, said drug court allows an offender to address issues that lead to crimes in the community. She said buying, selling or trying to get money for drugs has an effect on crime.

Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire, who presides over drug court, said the program can change the course of a person's life. For example, Calloway is close to earning her GED and is seeking a better job.

"Drug court gives them a sense of worth that they may have never had," Hogshire said. "You have to think you are important to change what you do to have a better life, because the system can't do it for you. This program is about hope, about taking people's lives to a different place."

'A human connection'

Although drug court's first session occurred in July 1997, said Dave Chapman, the city's commonwealth's attorney, local officials involved in criminal justice talked about the concept about five years earlier as part of discussion on dealing with drug offenders.

Pat Smith, executive director of Offender Aid and Restoration, said citizens and the criminal justice community welcomed the program, which was initially funded through a federal grant and supplemented with state drug court funds.

As of Wednesday, 220 people have graduated from the local drug court. Gould said 63 percent of participants who enter the program graduate and 82.3 percent of graduates don't reoffend within two years. About 40 people are currently enrolled in drug court.

Gould said about two-thirds of participants are male and most are in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Drug court participants are most likely to be addicted to cocaine, followed by marijuana and opiate painkillers.

One of the big features of drug court is the relationship between the judge and the participants. Hogshire said he both administers rules and acts as a cheerleader.

"My role is also to make a human connection, for them to know I care if they do well or not," Hogshire said. "I can appreciate the effort they're making."

Hogshire said successful participants must want to change their ways and stay away from the people, places and things involved in their drug use. Calloway said she has stayed away from the bad influences in her life and refocused them on home and school.

She said she used to be a negative person before drug court, but now she has a positive outlook.

"I always gave up easily before," Calloway said. "I've been through a lot of different types of programs, but being in drug court, it set me straight."

Paying for it

Funding has been a concern for the 14 adult drug courts across the state. The $3 million in statewide funding was at risk again this year due to state budget woes, prompting local officials to look into other ways to raise the roughly $182,000 that the state contributes each year. Smith said the local drug court was turned down for a federal grant a year ago, but the paperwork will be resubmitted.

Gould said the program's budget has remained steady at around $300,000 in recent years. The rest of the money comes from the city and county. Most of the budget pays for staff and participants pay for treatment on a sliding scale.

Gould said it costs about $25,000 a year to incarcerate someone at the Albemarle-Charlot-tesville Regional Jail and less than $5,000 a year to put someone through drug court. Chapman and Lunsford said drug court seems to neither reduce nor increase their workloads.

Officials said both Republicans and Democrats have shown support for Virginia's drug courts. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell and Democratic gubernatorial nominee and area state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, both have spoken to the local drug court.

Chapman, who is this year's chairman of the local drug court board, said political support doesn't always guarantee funding.

"We've had one administration after another with strong support for it and it simply has been a matter of, 'is there enough money to support their continued state support?'" he said.

Calling Virginia's drug courts "a funding football," Gould said he expects 2010's legislative session to be difficult.

Gould said there aren't any definitive plans if the state's funding is yanked. The decision would be up to the drug court's board. Chapman previously has said the local drug court board has discussed changing the court's structure or management, using savings to fund it or dismantling it.

Graduation

About 40 people -- including drug court participants, families, local prosecutors, attorneys and others -- came to watch Wednesday's graduation.

The graduates received their certificates of participation, but Hogshire said the final orders would be delayed due to the weather's impact on the court clerk's office hours.

Calloway, who was composed for most of the event, began to cry when she told the audience how her sister had supported her from the beginning. Referencing her own struggle in a lighthearted way, she made the participants laugh when she told them, "if I did it, I know y'all can do it."