Drug Treatment Courts Hailed as Successful
Drug and alcohol treatment courts clearly depart from the traditional judicial model. Nevertheless, their effectiveness in preventing recidivism and promoting true rehabilitation has been noted in nearly every jurisdiction where they are used. In Berks County, the Drug/Mental Health Treatment Court program began operation in 2005 to target a population of non-violent probation and parole offenders with a history of substance abuse.
Drug Treatment Court is a process that runs at least 18 months and includes close judicial supervision and frequent drug abstinence testing. During this period, the offender goes through four distinct phases where he or she:
- Establishes a stable lifestyle by abstaining from drugs, securing living arrangements and gainful employment and creating a plan to deal with obligations like fines, restitution and child support.
- Demonstrates compliance with case management and payment plans, maintains gainful employment and exhibits appropriate use of time.
- Continues compliance and maintenance of gainful employment and the completion of a Phase 3 project that illustrates the negative impact of the participant’s old life as well as his or her vision for the future.
- Maintains compliance and a healthy lifestyle and participates in mentoring new Treatment Court participants.
During all phases, participants must make regular court appearances, undergo biweekly drug testing, attend approved 12-step programs and submit to regular contact with their Adult Probation Officers, with penalties imposed for noncompliance. This constant supervision is designed to provide a strong support system and catch relapse early.
Participation in this program may promote meaningful change and allow successful graduates to avoid harsher criminal penalties. Alumni have, by and large, expressed their gratitude for the second chance and have been less likely to relapse or end up in court again. An experienced Berks County criminal defense attorney knows the details of the program and how it can help qualified defendants turn their lives around.