Report on Adult Drug Court: eligibility, procedure, and funding Prepared for the State of Rhode Island General Assembly revised April 26, 2007

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1 Report on Adult Drug Court: eligibility, procedure, and funding Prepared for the State of Rhode Island General Assembly revised April 26, 2007 The Council on Crime Prevention: Nathaniel Lepp, Matthew Palevsky, Trevor Stutz with support from Nick Horton and the Family Life Center Corresponding Author: Matthew Palevsky EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: 1. Adult Drug Court works. Through its integrated approach to addressing substance abuse and other causes of crime, the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court (ADC) has reduced one-year recidivism rates by half. These findings are consistent with national trends. 2. The long-term outcomes of the ADC save money and produce increased public safety because chronic substance abusers are treated and effectively removed from future involvement with the criminal justice system. The more that the ADC can target people who would otherwise be headed to prison, the greater the cost-benefit. 3. It makes sense to fund the ADC with 4 Probation Officers. Because half of the costs of the ADC are fixed, it is prudent to invest in the expansion of the ADC in order to absorb a high number offenders who are currently being sentenced to costly prison terms though they are eligible for the ADC. 4. Changes in the eligibility requirements are needed in order to target problematic offenders who are the most costly to the state and who pose a greater likelihood to reoffend if their substance abuse issue is not properly treated. These changes are now possible because federal restrictions no longer apply to the ADC. 5. A few procedural changes would help to eliminate inefficiencies in the current system and to raise awareness of the program, thus maximizing the ADC s ability to accept the most appropriate participants annualized prison beds can be directly saved, and over 100 annualized beds can be saved through decreased recidivism if the proposals are adopted. These changes also represent a long-term strategy for breaking the cycle of incarceration and reinvesting in solutions to enhance public safety through a reduction in crime.

2 Objective This report analyzes the current Adult Drug Court (ADC) to determine the nature of offenders passing through the system. Secondly, the report considers the impact of changing the ADC s eligibility criteria, referral system, and funding needs. The goal of the study is to determine: 1. the number of prison-bound offenders currently being diverted from prison by the ADC. 2. the number of prison-bound offenders that are currently eligible for ADC diversion. 3. the number of prison-bound offenders that could be diverted if ADC eligibility were changed. 4. potential operational changes to improve efficacy of the ADC 5. fiscal needs of operating the ADC Drug Court Background Drug Court Programs, which were established in the late 1980s as a local response to increasing numbers of drug-related cases and expanding jail and prison populations, have become popular nationwide in the criminal justice system. These programs are designed to reduce substance abuse behavior and recidivism rates of non-violent felony offenders who suffer from addiction by engaging them in judicially monitored substance abuse treatment. There are over 1,700 drug courts currently functioning in America and both government and private studies confirm that these programs significantly reduce substance abuse and recidivism rates, while saving the government an average of four dollars for every one dollar invested in drug court programs. 12 In 2005, the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court (ADC) developed from a pilot initiative serving approximately people to a full-time program with over 115 active participants 140 by early A number of federal grant monies funded this expansion. The most recent grant, the $545,327 Byrne Grant, ran out in the latter part of FY Emergency funding has been provided to pay for court operations until the end of the fiscal year, and Governor Carcieri has chosen not to initiate state funding for the ADC in the FY 2008 budget. Also, the ADC does not currently have funding to accept new participants who cannot afford their own treatment. Rhode Island has a higher demand for the treatment and rehabilitation provided by the ADC than most other states. Out of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, Rhode Island has the fourth highest percentage of individuals needing but not receiving treatment for illicit drug use. 3 After the District of Columbia, Rhode Island has the highest percentage of illicit drug abusers and 1 Since 2000, the three major studies that address the effectiveness of drug courts suggest that the cost-benefit-ration ranges from depending on the particular context of the program. While savings vary, this research illustrates that all drug court programs save the government money in the long run. Belenko, Steven. et al. Economic Benefits of Drug Treatment: A Critical Review of the Evidence for Policy Makers. (Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, February 2005) pp Adult Drug Courts: Evidence Indicates Recidivism Reductions and Mixed Results for Other Outcomes (Government Accountability Office, February 2005) 3 Douglas Wright and Neeraja Satha, State Estimates of Substance Use from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (United State Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, September, 2004) pp This figure is, as noted, a combination of two categories: abusers and addicts; in addicts alone, however, Rhode Island also ranks second after DC. 2

3 addicts in the United States. 4 This figure is partly explained by the fact that year-olds in Rhode Island have a higher incidence of illicit drug abuse or dependence than any other age group in any other state; more than 12 percent are affected. 5 The ADC is one of the only programs in Rhode Island that offers treatment instead of incarceration to those suffering from substance abuse. The Rhode Island ADC is a uniquely effective and successful program. On a national level, graduation rates for drug courts vary from anywhere between 22 and 70 percent. 6 Under Magistrate Smith, over 60 percent of participants have graduated from the ADC, which is well above the national average. Furthermore, unlike many drug courts that accept mostly low level addicts and petty criminals, the ADC has a history of taking defendants with serious addictions and extensive criminal records. Drug Courts in New England Number of Adult Drug Courts Adult Drug Courts in New England New Hampshire Connecticut Maine Massachusetts Rhode Island State Vermont 4 Ibid., pp Ibid., pp Huddleson, West C. et al. Painting the Current Picture: A National Report Card on Drug Courts and Other Problem Solving Court Programs in the United States. Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Drug Court Institute; May

4 Findings Recidivism Rates: The Government Accountability Office has repeatedly reported that drug courts significantly reduce recidivism rates. 7 In Rhode Island, this is particularly true. For those who complete the ADC program, recidivism rates for graduates one year after leaving the drug court are more than 50 percent lower than the state average. The Council on State Governments reports that 31% of offenders released from prison are back within one year, while less than 15 percent of ADC graduates commit an offense within one year of graduating. The ADC program has not existed long enough to conduct a study of either long term recidivism or recidivism rates for those who failed out of the ADC. One Year Recidivism Rates ACI Average: 31% Adult Drug Court: 14.58% Characteristics of ADC Participants: As of March 21 st, people were enrolled in the Adult Drug Court Program. Type of offense for admittance into ADC 8 Drug Charges: 39 Shoplifting: 4 Forgery and Counterfeit: 2 B&E Unoccupied Dwelling: 1 Simple/Domestic Assault: 1 Suspended Charge: average sentence in months 9 To Serve: 4.8 Probation: 21.5 Suspended: 10.8 Criminal History: average from participants in 2006 Felonies: 2.25 Drug Felonies: 0.75 Total months sentenced to serve: 4.00 Total suspended sentence (years): % have no previous felonies 14% have one previous felony 43% have more than one previous felony 67% have no previous felony drug charges 30% have more than one previous felony drug charge. 7 Adult Drug Courts: Evidence Indicates Recidivism Reductions and Mixed Results for Other Outcomes (Government Accountability Office, February 2005) 8 This reflects a 47 person sample size. For cases with multiple charges we recorded the most serious crime as long as a drug crime was not present, in which case we recorded the drug crime. 9 These numbers reflect the time that defendants would have served if they had not been diverted into the ADC. 4

5 Recommended Procedural Changes: The acceptance of federal grants over the last three years has required the ADC to function under federal guidelines. The conclusion of federal funding allows the ADC to tailor its function to the unique context in Rhode Island. REFERRALS: Current Practice Proposed Practice Impact Most cases are referred Refer potential For each offender during the pre-trial participants after their referred at the earliest conference, which is initial arraignment court date, months of weeks or months after when bail is set. prison time will be the initial arraignment Educate judges, public saved. and pre-arraignment defenders, and private hearings. Many attorneys to encourage offenders spend this them to make time incarcerated while appropriate referrals. awaiting a court date. SENTENCING When a participant fails out of the ADC, they are sentence on their suspended charge. The sentence does not take into account the time spent in the ADC. The sentencing of those who fail out of the ADC should take into account the defendant s time in the ADC program. We suggest that total time in the ADC be subtracted from the defendants suggested probation and/or suspended sentence term, and that the defendant s time in prison during the ADC program be subtracted from the defendant s suggested time to serve. Decrease in the number of prison days served relative to the participant s ability to meet ADC criteria. Increased incentive to stay in ADC. Scientific studies show that the longer an addicted person stays in treatment, the better the outcome in terms of crime and drug abuse, despite relapses or program termination. GRADUATION The ADC s minimum graduation period is twelve months. The ADC should consider graduating fully compliant and rehabilitated participants after eight Increases availability of ADC slots. 5

6 months. Eligibility Currently, federal statutes dictate strict eligibility requirements for the ADC. We have studied the composition of the Adult Correctional Institute s (ACI) population and their criminal histories to determine the effect of changing eligibility requirements for the ADC. In the year 2006, there were 4143 persons sentenced to serve time in the ACI. Over 500 persons were sentenced for drug possession. Well over 100 persons on probation for a drug possession charge were violated and sentenced to serve time in the ACI without a new charge. How many of the 500 offenders may have been eligible for Adult Drug Court: (20.5%) under the current regulations (36.6%) if they were not rendered ineligible for the offenses: manufacturing/delivery, intent to deliver, or conspiracy to violate the controlled substances act (51.0%) if they were not rendered ineligible for the offenses in #2 nor for B&E offenses (53.0%) if they were not rendered ineligible for the offenses in #2 nor for non-capital & non-sex offenses that occurred more than 10years prior to the 2006 offense (67.4%) if they were no rendered ineligible for offenses in #3, nor for non-capital & non-sex offenses that occurred more than 10years prior to the 2006 offense. If we apply those same percentages to the 100 persons re-incarcerated without a new charge for violations of drug possession charges, then the total number of offenders who may be eligible for ADC from the two cohorts combined would be: under the current regulations allowing for manufacturing/delivery, intent, and conspiracy charges allowing for #2 and B&E allowing for #2 and 10-year wash-out period for prior violent offenses allowing for #3 and 10-year wash-out period for prior violent offenses The number of eligible offenders would not all be accepted into the ADC, since some may choose not to sign the ADC contract and others may not have a substance abuse problem. The gross number that would be eligible may be considered significantly higher if we take into account that some portion of other nonviolent offenders sentenced in 2006 for non-drug possession crimes may have a history of drug crime or substance abuse. In 2006, 860 persons were sentenced for non-violent crimes and 991 were sentenced for violations on nonviolent offenses. Since many of the ADC participants are accepted for various non-drug nonviolent crimes, this cohort could also be evaluated to determine a potential ADC population. 6

7 Of a sample from the 500 offenders, the average: 1. Number of previous felony convictions = Number of previous felony drug convictions = Number of previous months to serve [not necessarily served] = Number of months to serve for 2006 possession conviction [some concurrent with additional 2006 charges such as delivery] = Number of months suspended for 2006 possession conviction = 44.3 Recommended Eligibility Changes In order to increase the number of prison-bound offenders being diverted by the ADC: 1. The ADC should broaden its eligibility criteria since it is no longer bound by federal guidelines due to not receiving any federal grants. 2. The ADC should concentrate its resources on prison-bound offenders, while many firsttime offenders should still be diverted to courses of appropriate treatment. 3. The ADC should expand its capacity. Staffing & Financial Needs: Our financial projections are based on numbers from FY2006, when there was an average of 80 participants on any given day in the ADC. MHRH reports that it spent $202,430 on treatment for the ADC in FY2006. Therefore, the average treatment cost per participant annualized is $2,530. The ADC estimated costs are as follows: Fixed Costs (for ~75 participants): FY 2008 COURT: Magistrate, Drug Court Manager, Special Project Manager $430,980 DOC: Probation officer (at highest pay grade) $117,390 AG: Prosecutor $ 92,000 PD: Attorney $146,925 MHRH: Clinical Case Coordinator $103,523 Marginal Costs: The number of Probation Officers, treatment funding, and treatment availability are the limiting factors for the volume of the ADC. Magistrate Smith has suggested expanding the program to approximately 300 participants supervised by 4 Probation Officers. 75 participants: Treatment 75 x $2,530 = $189,750 TOTAL for 75 participants: $1,080, participants: Treatment 300 x $2,530 = $759,000 7

8 Funding for additional 3 Probation Officers 3 x $117,390 = $352,170 TOTAL for 300 participants: $2,001,988 Marginal Cost per individual: $4,096 Methodology: For the ADC data analysis, we used the ADC records, general court records, and WINFACTS. Interviews with ADC staff and participants were conducted to compliment the data. The data regarding the criminal record of ADC participants was derived from a 47 person sample of 2006 participants. We also used the highest pay grade for probation officers in projecting the cost of increasing the ADC s capacity. For the non-adc offenders, data from the 2006 RIDOC Sentenced population and court records, were used. The number of felony convictions was determined by counting all felony charges for which there was a Nolo Contendere or guilty verdict according to the court records. This method causes there to be a substantially higher number of convictions than admittances to prison, as several charges may be made simultaneously, and the court records may show a case multiple times. We selected a random sample of 49 records from the 500 sentenced for drug possession. We then aggregated this data and extrapolated to the total universe of 500. We then applied the same percentages to the 100 offenders who were violators on drug possession sentences without a new charge. 8

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