10 Key Components
Sobriety courts integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.
Treatment is a critical factor in reducing recidivism among substance abuse offenders. The streamlining of court procedures by fast tracking cases and increased access to treatment will reduce the number of cases being set for trial as well as reducing the time between the dates of offense-sentencing-and initiation of treatment. These cases will be processed and a plea taken within 30 days of offense.
Offenders will be places in Phase I after a thorough substance abuse assessment is completed. This will be conducted between plea and sentencing. From that, a treatment plan will be laid-out as to his or her needed level of treatment and incorporated into his or her treatment plan and Sobriety court contract. Treatment providers will update the court on a weekly bases regarding offenders progress.
Using a non-adversarial approach, the prosecution and defense counsel will promote public safety while protecting participants due proves rights.
All team members will work together toward the common goals of reducing recidivism and rehabilitating offenders. A team approach will be utilized to ensure the participant receives prompt treatment for his or her addiction while the defense counsel will be primarily charged with ensuring the protection of his or her due process rights. No plea will be taken from an offender unless he or she has met with either their own hired counsel, or court-appointed counsel, who will be knowledgeable of the Sobriety Court and its benefits.
This program will be a post conviction, probationary status program, therefore ensuring there is a formal adjudication of the matter.
Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the Sobriety Court Program.
All defendants coming before the court with a 2nd or subsequent arrest for drunk driving will initially be eligible. This will target offenders who might have otherwise been looking up to one year in the county jail. At most 40 offenders will be in Phase O or OO, at any given time.
All OUIL arraignments should take place within 14 days of arrest/offense. The pre-trial hearing will be set within 14 days of arraignment. If the defendant has not retained an attorney, a court-appointed attorney, knowledgeable in sobriety court, will be present to advise and counsel the individual.
The Sobriety Court Probation Officer will be charged with the initial identification of potential participants via a check of LEIN. Offenders with a prior violent, felony conviction will be ineligible for placement into Sobriety Court. Offenders who appear to be eligible for placement into Sobriety Court will be administered a short alcohol screening by probation at the arraignment to determine initial suitability. If deemed eligible, pre-trial will be set for 14 days after the arraignment. As a condition of bond, the offender will be required to submit to an alcohol assessment through Central Diagnostic & Referral (CDRS) during that time.
At the pre-trial, if all eligibility criteria have been met, the prosecutor will offer the offender Sobriety Court participation. If the offender and his or her attorney accept placement into this program, sentencing will occur that date. Sentencing will include all aspects of PHASE I, including the appropriate placement into substance abuse treatment. The offender will then formally begin Sobriety Court.
Sobriety courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug and related treatment and rehabilitation services.
In order to tailor the treatment service plan to the individual= s needs and financial situation, we will rely on the needs assessment that is completed prior to sentencing. Specifically, we will be working in conjunction with, Mid-South Substance Abuse Commission, McCullough Vargas and Associates Counseling, Lenawee Intermediate School District, National Council on Alcoholism, and others, for substance abuse and Life skills services. We will partner with Community Mental Health to address the mental health issues of our co-occurring disorder offenders. We will work with MICHIGAN WORKS and other educational agencies for education and job placement/skills. Other community service agencies will be networked with when the need arises for housing, literacy, Life skills, and family issues.
Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
Participants will be required to initially submit to twice Daily PBTs and weekly random urine screens. Testing will continue through each Phase, however, the frequency will diminish as he/she progresses through all the phases. Testing will remain on at least a random basis until graduation. Violations of testing will result in immediate, graduated sanctions, which will include increased testing.
The Sobriety Court Team will continue to meet with local law enforcement on a quarterly basis, or as more often if needed, to discuss a continued collaborative approach to working together. We will have Sobriety Court participants probation conditions entered into LEIN. Local law enforcement will be instructed to call the Probation Officer immediately if they have contact with an offender.
This department will coordinate with local law enforcement to team-up with a specific police officer to do random home visits on offenders at times when the court is not normally open to the public.
A specific Probation Officer will be dedicated as the Sobriety Court Probation Officer. Each offender will meet with this Officer, at least once weekly, during Phase I. Following this, he/she will meet with this officer bi-weekly and eventually monthly during the subsequent phases.
Each offender will also be subject to scheduled home visits by his/her officer.
Ongoing judicial interaction with each Sobriety court participant is essential.
Initially, the Judge will meet with each participant on a weekly basis eventually moving to a monthly basis in Phase II. The participant meets twice with the Judge in Phase III, and once prior to their Graduation during Phase IV. The Judge will oversee the graduation ceremony as well.
Some offenders who have been assessed to as special-needs offenders, could be placed on weekly reporting to the Judge, until the team feels he/she is ready to move to the normal rotation of bi-weekly court hearings.
Offenders can be moved back to a previous Phase if their progress stalls or a violation occurs, which would result in more frequent judicial involvement, as outlined in each phase.
Although a program where the participant does not relapse is ideal, the research sustains that relapse is a part of the recovery process for substance dependent individuals. In order to effectively deal with relapses and noncompliance, our program will consist of graduated sanctions that will be applied as an immediate consequence.
In addition, incentives will be incorporated into our program to recognize successes. The business community will be solicited for gift certificates and/or prizes to present to the participants as an incentive for reaching milestones (i.e. entering a new phase) on the way to full recovery and sobriety. Certificates will also be awarded to participants when they partake in their graduation ceremony.
Participants will be required to make a contribution towards their Sobriety Court program costs. Participants with special financial concerns will be required to contribute via community service work, as deemed appropriate by the team.
Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness
To evaluate the success of our program, we have partnered with Researchers at Siena Heights University to conduct an evaluation of our program, including an analysis of the rate of recidivism of Sobriety Court participants compared to those placed on a regular probationary period for similar charges. We will also work with the Secretary of State to extrapolate a two-year control group of offenders with similar criteria of our Sobriety Court participants, to compare recidivism rates.
We will work with our IT department and software providers to be able to manage and collect the data needed to accomplish this. A software program that best fits these needs would need to be purchased. The evaluation data is critical to justifying the continuance of the program.
Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective Sobriety court planning, implementation, and operations.
The 2A District Court was selected and continues to be involved with the federally funded Sobriety Court Planning Initiative Training. This training consists of three phases which were attended by our collaborative team (Judges, Chief P.O., Coordinator, Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, treatment representative, Sheriff, and evaluators). The Sobriety Court team continued to meet weekly until the implementation of our program. Once the program is established, we will continue to meet monthly to discuss developments and improvements. The core team: Judge, Probation, and treatment will meet weekly at Sobriety Court sessions.
Forging partnerships among Sobriety courts, public agencies and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances Sobriety court program effectiveness.
To gather community support, we have already established a Steering committee which consists of representatives from law enforcement, MADD, substance abuse and mental health treatment community, support-group community, faith-based community and education. This steering committee will meet quarterly to address the needs of the community in relationship to the operation of the sobriety court.
In addition, we will continue to foster additional collaboration with other community agencies by speaking to local rotary, chamber of commerce, police, media, and other stakeholders, on an ongoing basis.