Veterans Treatment Court HANDBOOK

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1 May 21, 2015 Jay E. Town AMERICA S WARRIOR PARTNERSHIP

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. Program Description & Functionality... 3 II. Ten Pillars & Goals of the Program... 5 III. Team Roles... 7 IV. Program Structure Phase I: Orientation & Treatment Phase II: Recovery, Development & Reintegration Phase III: Community Transition & Graduation V. Admissions Committee, Admission, Pleas & Discharge VI. Court Status Review, Incentives & Sanctions VII. Mentors VIII. Community Veterans Organizations Liaisons IX. Veterans Administration Liaisons X. Participant Assessment & Treatment XI. Case Management Officer & Program Specialists

3 XII. Miscellaneous Data Reporting & Evaluation Funding Sources Confidentiality Substance Testing & Monitoring Color Code Protocols Alcohol Monitoring Devices Prescription & Over-the-Counter Medications Other Sources for Information on s APPENDIX I (Sample Application) APPENDIX II (Sample VTC Mentors Handbook) APPENDIX III (Sample Participant Graduation Questionnaire)

4 The mission of the is to provide veterans that have entered the criminal justice system a diversionary prosecutorial method by which they can avail themselves of a holistic approach to veterans services. The context of the criminal justice system allows the prosecuting authority to maintain positive control over an individual charged with a crime while the court provides that individual veteran with the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves through myriad community, state and federal veterans resources and create a more productive, industrious and lawful life. I. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION & FUNCTIONALITY Program Description. The (or Veterans Court) program provides a means to divert eligible veteran participants from the traditional criminal justice system and provide them support and rehabilitation through comprehensive substance abuse and/or mental health treatment; education; vocational programs; and community resource referrals for housing, childcare, and transportation, all while being judicially monitored. Diversionary courts, such as VTCs, Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, are increasingly common in the modern criminal justice era, especially in population centers. Similar to these diversionary courts, participants in VTC will have to take a plea before the court but sentencing will be withheld while the defendant participates in Veterans Court. If the participant graduates Veterans Court then the case will be dismissed. If the participant fails to graduate for any reason then the sentencing portion of the plea will be executed and the participant sentenced in the normal course. s (VTC) are a made up of an extensive collaboration between the criminal justice system (judge, prosecutor, defense lawyer) and dedicated partners, mentors, mental health specialists, addiction specialists, including criminal justice, federal veterans agencies, and local community veterans organizations. The target population includes military veterans who have been charged with felony non-violent criminal offense(s) and who are identified with substance dependency and/or serious mental health issues (discussed at length herein). The following terms and definitions apply to this Manual: Court: This refers to the itself or the presiding judge, depending on the context. The two can be used interchangeably. Prosecutor: This is the State s Attorney, District Attorney, Attorney General s Office or City Attorney, his assistants or deputies, and generally any person charged with prosecuting the underlying offense that is the subject matter of a defendant s appearance in Veterans Treatment Court. VTC: or Veterans Court. Applicant: This is the defendant prior to being accepted to the VTC. Participant: This is the defendant or defendant-participant. Dismissal: There are many ways in which a charge may be dismissed depending upon the charge itself. The general term dismissal applies to any motion, order, no bill, etc. that might result in the dismissal disposition of charges. Supervision Officer: This is the mentor of any particular participant. 3

5 Program Specialist: This is any mental health, addiction or health care service provider in the context of those who evaluate and treat a given VTC participant. VTC Functionality. The, like any diversionary court, may be adapted to fit the processes of the respective judicial circuit or jurisdiction. A VTC structure is a flexible structure with suggested and preeminent goals that ensure the efficacy and impact of every VTC Program. Despite the flexibility of a VTC Program, the process that successfully enrolls and graduates a veteran-participant in VTC will normally see the participant enter the system as follows: Veteran is arrested for a qualified, non-violent offense; The offense is VTC eligible per the stated restrictions in the VTC Application or information packet, meaning that the offense itself is per se acceptable for enrollment in VTC (special considerations may be made on case-by-case basis by prosecutor and Judge); Defendant s defense counsel requests of prosecutor the ability to apply for entry into the VTC Program; Prosecutor approves defendant s ability to make application (if such is not approved then defendant is not eligible for VTC and the case is prosecuted in the normal course); Defendant-participant makes formal application to participate in VTC, normally through defendant s defense counsel; Application is received by the VTC and forwarded to the standing Admissions Committee for review and recommendation of approval; Admissions Committee recommends acceptance or denial of acceptance to the judge based on the information obtained in the application and/or any other information requested by the Admissions Committee; Judge makes final determination of admission, regardless of Admissions Committee recommendation but in deference to the Admissions Committee in most instances; Defendant is notified through his/her defense counsel of acceptance or denial into the VTC Program; If denied acceptance to VTC, defendant is prosecuted in the normal course; If granted acceptance to VTC defendant is placed on a docket for a plea or what becomes known as a Veterans Court Plea ; Defendant pleads guilty to the charge(s) pursuant to a plea agreement but sentencing, pursuant to the same agreement, is suspended so that defendant may participate in the VTC Program; Defendant enters Phase I of the VTC Program and is charged to complete all three phases of the VTC Program; Failure to complete any phase of the VTC Program will result in discharge from the VTC Program and immediate sentence pursuant to the previously referenced plea agreement (defendant-participants are NOT allowed to withdraw their pleas of guilty); Defendant is assessed by relevant specialists and case management officer to design the individual program for each participant; Defendant is assigned a mentor to enable the participant to have a support structure while participating in the VTC Program; 4

6 Completion of all phases of the VTC Program results in graduation from the VTC Program and dismissal of all charges that were the subject of the plea agreement. The court system is often a slow and arduous system with safeguards that often serve to significantly slow progress toward finality for a veteran in the justice system. Early identification of veterans in the criminal justice system is critical to the greatest efficacy for the veteran. Developing processes that capture that a potential applicant is a veteran, such as a simple jail intake question or subsequent notification to the VTC of an incarcerated veteran, will help all veterans in the criminal justice system in a particular jurisdiction to avail themselves of an available VTC. II. TEN PILLARS & GOALS OF THE VETERANS TREATMENT COURT PROGRAM Ten Pillars of the. The team is made up of the judge that oversees the VTC, the prosecutor, the veteran-participant s defense counsel, an admissions committee, mental health and addiction specialists and a team of mentors for each veteran-participant in the court. The team regularly reviews the mission statement, program goals, and the ten pillars to continually bolster the efficacy of the VTC. The following ten tenets of are pillars for the success of any VTC: 1. s offer a holistic approach to veterans who have entered the criminal justice system, to include alcohol, drug treatment and mental health services and also access to a variety of integrated veterans services for the participant. 2. Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting the veteran-participants due process rights. 3. Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the Veterans Treatment Court Program. 4. s provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services. 5. Abstinence is monitored by frequent random alcohol and other drug testing. 6. A coordinated strategy governs responses to participants compliance and provides a common operating plan for treatment providers and other VTC personnel. 7. The Judge is the leader of the team. 8. Fundamental to the effective operation of Veterans Courts is coordinated management, monitoring and evaluation systems. 9. Continuing interdisciplinary education for all staff and team members promotes effective Veterans Court planning, implementation, and operations. 10. Forging partnerships among treatment courts, public agencies, and integrated communitybased organizations generates local support and enhances effectiveness. Ten Goals of the Program. There are several primary goals of every diversionary court. Particularly, the VTC has specific goals since the VTC deals directly with an exclusive group of defendants namely veterans. Veterans face issues that are sometimes very 5

7 different from garden variety defendants. Generally, the ten goals for every Veterans Treatment Court are as follows: 1. Promote sobriety, recovery, and stability for veterans in need by providing substance abuse and mental health treatment coupled with academic and vocational skill-building services. 2. Provide early identification of eligible program participants in an effort to compel individuals problem recognition and confront denial, while at the same time accelerating the treatment process for eligible offenders by expediting the admission process. 3. Engage in community education and partnership efforts to develop shared understanding and foster a spirit of commitment and collaboration with the Veterans Administration, treatment providers, volunteer mentors, the criminal justice system, and other organizations. 4. Address the needs of non-violent adult, alcohol and substance-abusing felony veteran offenders by establishing a non-adversarial adult Program. 5. Increase the safety to the public and encourage participants to remain substance free and/or in recovery from mental illness, and crime free, while reducing the recidivism rate and eliminating the cost of confining non-violent alcohol and substance abusive offenders, therefore providing relief to the criminal justice system. 6. Develop and implement a Mentor component to enhance treatment compliance and completion. 7. Discover any benefits of which a veteran participant may be eligible with various agencies and organizations, to include aid from state and federal agencies, seeking upgrade in discharge from the Armed Forces and determining eligibility in any program offered by applicable private organizations. 8. Compare the impact of the on the adult population and the recidivism rate of criminal offenders in treatment and traditional courts by using an outcome based method of evaluation. 9. Track the overall successes of the Program to develop a metrics of effectiveness so that other surrounding judicial circuits/jurisdictions will participate in this important program. 10. Inform and instruct local, state and federal government bodies, to include prosecutorial offices, of the overall positive impact of developing a VTC. Development and achievement of the Ten Pillars and Goals of any VTC Program will result in the most successful program possible. It will also ensure that a holistic approach to veterans services is implemented so that each veteran-participant receives the care and structure necessary. The VTC Program is a hand up, not a hand out. 6

8 III. VETERANS TREATMENT COURT TEAM ROLES A team shall be the operational entity of the program, providing a uniform and consistent focus, with the common goal of the participant s recovery and successful community reintegration. All members of the VTC Team shall act in the decorum expected and required of the Court. The following offers descriptions of suggest VTC Team Members and their respective roles in the VTC Program. Many of the titles below can be filled by the same individual or relatively small group of individuals: Team Members Generally The members of the VTC Team include the Judge, Prosecutor, defense lawyer, admission committee members, mentors, mental health specialist, addiction specialist, case management officer, various liaisons to veterans service organizations and agencies and any other person or entity the VTC deems appropriate for the care and structure of the veteranparticipant. Participate in the development of the participant s individual plan as progress is made through the program; Make recommendations for sanctions and incentives after reviewing treatment and supervision reports for participants; Provide encouragement and support to each offender throughout the program; Some roles may be executed by the same person or persons, depending on VTC requirements, planning, funding and volunteer availability. Plan and improve the policies and procedures for on a regular basis. Judge Directs the efficient operation of the Court and ensures that participant information is reported to all agencies involved; Schedules regular dockets requiring the participation or reporting of all participations; Participates in Staffing and settles disputes concerning the imposition of sanctions, incentives, or other actions when the team is not unanimous; Qualifies all mentors with the relevant Office of Courts, or similar functionary, which allows the mentors to view otherwise private information regarding the VTC participant, the criminal case and any other necessary information, to include health care/hipaa information, that will allow the mentor to perform their role in an appropriate manner; Supervises the progress of each participant by having regular court review hearings, and administers all appropriate actions consistent with the state laws. Prosecutor/District Attorney Works to educate law enforcement and the defense bar to recognize potential candidates for ; Delegates duties to a Deputy or Assistant District Attorney; Reviews new charges to assess for program eligibility; 7

9 Screens potential participants applications by reviewing current charge(s), facilitating interstate and national background checks, and requesting input of supervision concerning previous probationary supervisions; Determines if the offender meets criteria for the Program and approves or rejects admission as part of the VTC Admissions Committee; Attends all team meetings; Provides education to the public, including victims, as to the benefits of the Veterans Treatment Court Program; Keeps the team apprised of any new charges the participants may incur while in the program and recommends sanctions or termination from the program. Defense Attorney/Public Defender Review the VTC Application ensuring completion of every section of the application and that all appropriate documents or forms accompany the VTC Application; Reviews plea documents with prospective participants prior to plea, including: trial rights; waiver of rights; performance contract; phase contracts; plea bargain; and end result, whether successful or unsuccessful; Reviews plea forms and conditions with participants upon approval for admission to the ; Ensures the offender is fully cognizant of his/her rights prior to entering the Program; May join as a team member or appear before the team to help evaluate the participant s progress and argue for reduction of sanctions or particular incentives regarding clients; If the State files a motion to terminate a participant from the program, the attorney will apprise the participant of his/her rights; defend the action; and if the motion is granted, appear at sentencing with the participant; Help to educate the defense bar and community regarding all aspects of Veterans Treatment Court. Admissions Committee: Consists of select members of the VTC Team to include at least one prosecutor, one veteran, one mental health or addiction specialist and a member of the criminal defense bar; Reviews all applications submitted to the VTC; Submits recommendations for approval or disapproval to the Court on ALL applications; Develops, inquires and/or gathers any additional information from a defendant or defense counsel regarding any particular applicant in order to develop the broadest possible picture of whether an applicant should be recommended for acceptance to the VTC Program. VTC Case Management Officer: Supervises program participants on a regular basis with observed drug tests, home visits, and monitoring of status of employment and/or vocational rehabilitation attendance; Provides weekly reports to the team or as otherwise required; Tests participants by urinalysis and/or breathalyzer in accordance with the standard regulations, and according to manufacturer s instructions; Notifies the Court of any violations and accomplishments by the participants and recommends appropriate sanctions and incentives. Mental Health or Addiction Specialist Recommend initial and continued evaluations and treatment for each VTC participant; 8

10 Submits evaluation reports to the Judge or team in a timely manner so that participants can begin support of the treatment process as soon as possible; Recommends the most appropriate treatment provider for each participant based on key factors including individual legal history and current criminal charges, veteran status, indicators for treatment readiness, co-occurring mental health diagnostic criteria, type and history of drug use, age and/or sex of offender, geographic location of provider in relation to participant s home, and specialized services offered that may be relevant to the unique needs of the participant. Coordinator Submits grant applications and solicits state and federal funding for program management and development; Develops and presents orientations and handbooks for new program participants; Maintains oversight of current participant records; Coordinates statistical data collection and outcomes management information; Coordinates public relations and educational activities with local and state news agencies and the community; Informs legislators of problems and needs, as well as strengths and progress, of Veterans Treatment Court and its participants; Assists with program evaluation to improve processes; Oversees case management information system; Collects and analyzes information from entry and exit polls to improve the overall quality of the program; Provides information to the Court regarding treatment agency performance, and other reports as requested; Manages the daily operations of the program; Facilitates the orientation program for incoming participants, including distribution and explanation of the Participant Handbook and its contents; Provides leadership and direction over team staffing meetings in an effort to present a united front in court; Coordinates with treatment providers and supervision regarding participants progress in the program, as well as additional treatment or supportive needs; Advocates for incentives and sanctions for program participants based on reports from treatment and supervision; Engages in direct contact with participants on a regular basis and/or prior to each scheduled court appearance. Mentor Coordinator Recruits volunteer mentors; Screens prospective volunteer mentor candidates; Coordinates qualification of all mentors with the relevant Office of Courts, or similar functionary, which allows the mentors to view otherwise private information regarding the VTC participant, the criminal case and any other necessary information, to include health care/hipaa information, which will allow the mentor to perform their role in an appropriate manner. Educates the public about and the role of volunteers; 9

11 Assists in the retention of mentors; Organizes and conducts trainings for mentors; Plans and implements mentor recognition activities. Volunteer VTC Mentors Provide ongoing support and encouragement to program participants; Assist veterans with court proceedings; Aid VTC participants in getting all of the assistance, treatment and/or services as required or ordered by the VTC judge. Maintain weekly communication with each program participant and help provide the VTC participant with guidance throughout the program, no matter the phase. Veterans Organization Liaisons Offers a unique ability to serve as a point of contact for various government agencies, to include the Department of Veterans Affairs; Coordinates and advocates for veteran-participants benefits through various government agencies at the local, state and federal level; Coordinates with other charitable organizations to provide for a holistic approach to the veteran-participants integration into the community, to include those organizations specializing in jobs, job training, job placement, education, housing, benefits and legal assistance; Ideally, the Veterans Organization offers a holistic approach to veterans services so that the veteran-participant only need make positive contact with one organization, insuring the greatest ability to be successful in VTC and beyond; Drafts and submits grant proposals on behalf of the with funds being used to support the veteran-participant. Veterans Administration Liaisons Identify health care issues and develop a treatment plan particularized to a participant; Identify benefits owing and due a participant and develop a plan of action to make application for qualified benefits; Identify all potential claims and review previous claims that have already been denied or have yet to be determined as proper, either in part or in whole; Responsible for reviewing the initial evaluation report and referral information on each participant referred to treatment; Works with each participant to develop an individualized treatment plan utilizing a holistic approach to meet participant-identified needs; Provides a treatment orientation within 48 hours of plea and entry into the program; Provides an array of therapeutic interventions to meet the treatment needs of each participant, which may include individual and group therapy, family counseling, crisis intervention, education, rehabilitation, and case management services; Refers for additional services as needed; Intervenes appropriately upon receipt of positive drug test results; Reports on participants progress including non-compliance issues as they occur via written (web based) report and team staffing meetings; Utilize pre-approved and evidence-based curriculum for therapeutic interventions; 10

12 Maintains appropriate level/hours of contact with each participant based on their unique needs and in accordance with assessed level of care; Provides screening and linkage to multiple inpatient care options for participants assessed as needing this higher level of care. Vocational-Educational Coordinator Facilitates reading and educational screenings and assessments; Refers participants to resources in the community for temporary and permanent employment; Maintains tracking of GED classes and testing results of program participants; Links participants to literacy classes and reading tutors as needed; Identifies and networks with local agencies providing employment-related resources; Networks with local colleges, vocational schools, and other educational and vocational programs in the community. Community Resource Coordinator Facilitates outreach to build and enhance relationships with community resource agencies, charities and services; Identifies new referral sources and adds to existing resource database; Works with participants to develop a community engagement plan prior to program graduation; Serves as mentor for Intensive Case Managers; Assists with coordination of team training related to local resources and referrals; Acts as a community resource specialist for treatment providers and other team members. Legal Community Partnerships This includes local law enforcement, the law enforcement authority who oversees administration of the local jail, jail intake officer, prosecution, defense bar, defense counsel or public defender or contract defense counsel, relevant judicial circuit judges and any charitable legal cause that may assist defendants in their representation or participants in their supervised VTC process. 11

13 IV. VTC PROGRAM STRUCTURE (THREE PHASES) The Program integrates court supervision and an extensive network of treatment services and community support mechanisms, organizations and agencies. The program offers a three-tiered approach to allow the participant to have several transitional goals throughout the VTC Program. The first phase is the Orientation & Treatment Phase. The second phase is Recovery, Development & Reintegration Phase. The third and final phase is the Community Transition & Graduation Phase. The first phase is designed to orient the veteran with all of the possible and available treatment and veterans service options available. Early in this phase the participant can be expected to be overwhelmed, confused and somewhat despondent. Often times there is shame or embarrassment associated with entry into the criminal justice system, discussion of prior military service and the issues that accompany each VTC participant covered in open court before dozens of strangers. This first phase is the most critical to any participant s success. Orienting the participant to the program structure and designing a treatment program for the participant, often based on many of the veterans benefits and services due the participant, is the object of Phase I. The second phase is designed to allow the participant to begin the recovery process and participate constructively in it. This phase allows the participant to develop confidence in myriad areas of the participant s life, to include counseling for substance abuse, becoming employed, enrolling in school, receiving veterans benefits, etc. Moreover, the participant has already completed at least six months of the VTC program and is therefore granted the responsibility to participate in the rigors of court less often. This not only gives the participant a sense of responsibility but a sense of pride and emotion likely not felt by a given participant in some length of time. This reintegration into the community and society reflect positively on the participant. The third and final phase is designed to transition the participant to being fully independent of the VTC Team. This will result in less contact, sometimes unsupervised contact, by the Court, mentors and the rest of the VTC Team. The purpose of granting that independence is twofold: one, the court can assure itself that this participant can exist without supervision and two, the participant receives the satisfaction of creating his or her own independence through successful completion of 75% of the VTC Program. This phase culminates in a full graduation ceremony and celebration. A minimum of twelve months of active treatment is required for participants to complete all three phases of the program. Each phase includes court and supervision requirements, and addresses specific treatment and recovery goals, with therapeutic interventions and rehabilitative directives to be completed in order to advance to the next phase or graduate. The three phases are outlined below: Phase Months in Phase Court Review Phase I: Orientation & Treatment 6 months minimum Every two weeks Phase II: Recovery, Development & Reintegration 3 months minimum Every four weeks Phase III: Community Transition & Graduation 3 months minimum Partially Unsupervised 12

14 Treatment attendance is required and is provided according to each participant s individual treatment needs. Participants will typically be placed in either intensive outpatient or extended outpatient treatment, according to their assessment. Some participants, depending on their assessment, may be placed in inpatient treatment. The judge will make such determinations in conjunction with advice from relevant members of the VTC Team. Regular communication is maintained throughout the participant s stay in the residential or inpatient facility. Phase Advancement and Promotion. In order to advance to the next phase in VTC, participants hold the primary responsibility of completing all phase requirements. Upon a showing to the Court that the participant has completed and/or complied with all terms of a particular phase then that participant will advance to the next phase. The final phase, Phase III, includes graduation from the VTC Program and dismissal of all diverted charges. The court will review participant progress in each phase, which includes the Phase Promotion Check Sheets and any other evaluative process for each particular participant. Participant requirements for each phase are outlined in the VTC Application and in the Orientation portion of Phase I as outlined below. Furthermore, the court may extend each phase for a period the court deems necessary. If the participant refuses this extension then that shall be considered a withdrawal from the VTC and the participant shall be sentenced pursuant to their plea agreement. PHASE I: Orientation & Treatment 6 month requirement (minimum) Generally. Phase I is designed to orient the participant with the rigors of Veterans Court. It is also designed to identify and mandate any necessary treatment requirements of the participant. This phase also develops a plan of action for the participant as it relates to many aspects of the participant s life, such as education, employment, veterans services, benefits and treatment. Treatment Requirements: The participant must be assessed by any relevant review officers or professionals, to include a probation officer, correctional review officer, mental health specialist, addiction specialist or any other person or professional as the judge may dictate to each participant. Additional sessions may be required by the treatment provider. This also includes attendance at community support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc. Treatment milestones must have been met in order for any participant to advance to Phase II. Case Management Requirements: The participant must attend an initial assessment session to evaluate basic case management needs. An initial Case Management Plan is to be completed and submitted prior to request for promotion. A primary focus is on stable and sober housing in this phase. Educational, job and training requirements should be identified at this phase as well. Participants should be actively seeking employment or education at this time, but are not required to have secured employment in order to advance to Phase II. Any severe physical or mental health conditions should be evaluated, referred and treated immediately. Supervision Requirements: The participant is required to meet with the assigned mentor a minimum of four times per month. The manner of that contact, whether live, by telephone or virtual, shall be determined by the supervision officer. The participant must maintain curfew 13

15 throughout the phase. Travel outside of the county is not allowed during Phase I and the participant should not change residences without first advising supervision. Unscheduled home visits or employment check-ups may be conducted at any time, as well as random drug testing. Court Requirements: The participant must attend court status reviews as determined by the Court and the structured regimen of the VTC. It is recommended that VTC be in session at least two times per month at consistent times and days of the week. This ensures maximum attendance by participants, mentors, attorneys, case managers, etc., through a reliable calendar. The participant must maintain compliance with all court orders and VTC Program requirements. Drug Testing and Minimum Sobriety Requirements: As an express condition of the VTC Program each participant will submit to urinalysis and/or breath analysis tests at whenever directed by the Court. If a participant is placed on a color code system then the participant will have a urinalysis conducted on the day the participant s assigned color is called, as well as on-demand as requested by any VTC team member and ordered by the Court. A specimen that has been tampered with or is dilute will be considered a positive result. Any positive result may result in dismissal from, or extension on, the VTC Program. Fee Requirements: If the VTC Program requires fees then he participant is expected to maintain current payments on fees, though payment is not a requirement for promotion to Phase II. All fees must be paid prior to graduation. The Court may require a participant to pay for any or all urinalysis testing. It may be necessary to consult government counsel to determine whether an enabling statute is necessary to collect fees. The following are examples of fees that may be charged for participation in a VTC Program : Veterans Court Program Fee; Supervision fees; Drug testing; Contempt fines for positive drug screens or insubordination; Any other monitoring device; If a participant is considered indigent then VTC courts should budget for whatever testing measures the court will require or partner with community organizations to fund these monitoring measures. PHASE II: Recovery, Development & Reintegration 3 month requirement (minimum) Generally. This phase is designed to aggressively develop a continued plan of action for the participant s treatment. Less supervision is required because the participant has shown the Court that he or she can handle the rigors of Phase I, which is the most intensive phase. Treatment Requirements: Participants must continue all required treatment (individual and group counseling sessions) in accordance with the judge s order and discretion. No treatment shall be discontinued without permission from the Court. All milestones must be continue to be met and progress must be perceptible on all treatment measures as outlined by the treatment plan. 14

16 Supervision Requirements: The participant is required to continue to meet with the assigned supervision officer or mentor four times per month, at times and locations determined by the supervision officer, including court, the office, or residence. Travel outside of the county is not allowed during Phase II without the Court s permission. Unscheduled home visits or employment check-ups may be conducted at any time, as well as random on-the-spot substance testing. Court Requirements: The participant must attend the Veterans Court docket every other docket. The participant must maintain compliance with court orders to include mandatory urinalysis and other treatment options. Drug Testing and Minimum Sobriety Requirements: The participant will submit to urinalysis and/or breath-analysis tests at the community lab whenever the assigned color is called, as well as on-demand as requested by the judge, the prosecutor or any VTC team member. Fee Requirements: The participant should be making regular payments towards all fees as required. PHASE III: Community Transition & Graduation 3 month requirement (minimum) Generally. This phase is designed to transition the participant to full independence. Often times a participant will be unsupervised by the Court during this phase although mentors and other VTC Team members may still require contact. This phase aims to provide the participant with a sense of accomplishment and enjoy the benefits he or she has recouped while in the VTC Program. This phase culminates in a graduation. Treatment Requirements: The participant must complete all required treatment (individual and group counseling sessions) in accordance with the recommended level of care and the mentor must provide proof of this. Additional sessions may be required by the treatment. Treatment related milestones must be met and nearing completion or sustainment. Supervision Requirements: The participant is required to meet with the assigned supervision officer four times per month, at times and locations determined by the mentor. Travel outside of the county and/or state is allowed with prior approval from the supervision officer or the judge, and the participant should not change residences without first advising supervision. Unscheduled home visits or employment check-ups may be conducted at any time, as well as random drug testing. Court Requirements: The participant will no longer be required to attend Veterans Treatment Court dockets for this final phase. This phase will not be entered unless the participant has demonstrated at least twelve weeks of sobriety. Drug Testing and Minimum Sobriety Requirements: The participant will submit to urinalysis on-demand as requested by any team member. The participant must have at least twelve weeks sobriety and negative drug screens in order to graduate from VTC. 15

17 Fee Requirements: The participant should be making regular payments towards all fees as described previously in Fee Requirements, if applicable. Graduation Requirements: The participant shall have completed all requirements by the Court in satisfaction of the VTC Judge. All costs, fees and restitution must be paid or scheduled to be paid in satisfaction of the Court. Graduation Ceremony: Like any graduation ceremony, VTC participants that successfully graduate the VTC Program will be recognized individually at a regularly scheduled VTC docket. It is recommended that some formality of graduation be conducted by the Judge. For instance, cake, graduation certificate, VTC Challenge Coin, etc. are all examples of how to celebrate this accomplishment. Finally, it is recommended that the district attorney dismiss the case in open court, ordered by the judge and that a letter from the prosecutor be presented to the veteran graduate that explains to any future employers the completion of and dismissal (with prejudice). 16

18 V. ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE, ADMISSION, PLEAS & DISCHARGE Generally. The Admissions Committee, Admission, pleas and discharge are all interconnected. The Committee will recommend admission and then a plea is partially taken by the Court. A participant either succeeds and graduates or fails and is withdrawn. Admission Committee Mission & Membership. The VTC shall have an Admissions Committee made up of three to five members of the community and appointed by the VTC Judge. At least one member of the Admissions Committee shall be a representative of a prosecution s office, normally an Assistant District Attorney/State s Attorney. The remaining members of the community should represent the veterans community and veterans concerns. It is suggested that a Mental Health or Addiction Specialist be a member of the Admissions Committee. Should an Admissions Committee member be required to review certain materials that are confidential to the participant then that member shall complete the necessary forms designed for such disclosures. They must also seek approval from the respective Administrative Office of Courts. Procedure. Referrals to the Program are made by judges, the VA, treatment providers, attorneys, supervision officers, the Public Defender s office, or other Veterans Treatment Court staff, to the office of the District Attorney (DA). Every applicant must complete the formalized VTC application (See Appendix I), submit to any further inquiries by the Admission Committee/judge and provide all documentation as required by the court. Initially the District Attorney, upon request by the defendant, preliminarily approves a defendant to apply for VTC. The defendant retrieves the application from the VTC judge, fully completes the application and it is submitted to the Admissions Committee for review. The Admissions Committee is entitled to extend their inquiry about a given defendant/applicant and solicit information from defendant s counsel or from the defendant himself, to include an interview with the defendant. After all information is gathered by the Admissions Committee then the Committee votes on a recommendation to the judge regarding admission. The recommendation for or against admission is forwarded to the VTC judge who is the final arbiter on admission, regardless of recommendation. If an applicant is denied entry then they are prosecuted in the normal course. If an applicant is admitted then they are set on a docket for plea and entry into the program. Application & Admission. A qualified veteran-defendant must make formal application, normally through counsel, to the Veterans Court (See Appendix I). This application requires each applicant to provide detailed information of the applicant s military service (to include a copy of the applicant s DD-214), details of any physical or mental ailments and an admission of the events that led to the charged offenses before the Court that are to be diverted. Furthermore, the applicant must give full permission for the Court and the VTC Team to review all medical and/or mental health documents, diagnoses or any other HIPAA related document as it pertains to that applicant. The applicant also is counseled to understand that all appearances, and relevant discussions regarding the veteran-participant s care/treatment/participation, will ALL be in open court normally before all other VTC participants and/or applicants. Finally, all contact information must be provided to the Court so that any necessary member of the team may contact and/or visit the veteran-participant at any time for any purpose. 17

19 The application process orients the applicant with the VTC and the inevitable structure and requirements of the program. The application also informs every participant of a wide-range of sanctions, to include a conclusion of Contempt and incarceration, for failure to follow the terms of the Veterans Court program. This includes failure to pass a drug and alcohol test as required by the Court at any time. If an applicant is admitted and accepted into the VTC Program then that defendant will need to proceed with a diversionary court plea or what is commonly known as a Veterans Court Plea. This plea allows the prosecution some assurances while allowing the defendant to have their case(s) diverted through the VTC. It is of great benefit to the Court, counsel and all participants that the VTC Application be as comprehensive as possible. It is also suggested that the VTC maintain a website, or asks that a local veteran service provider maintain a link on their website or a separate site altogether, that contains information about the particular VTC, the VTC application, mentor application, offers links to veteran service provider partners and gives as much information as possible about the roles and responsibilities regarding every aspect of VTC. Not only will this increase the amount of veterans reached by a given VTC but it will also advertise the availability of this diversionary option to veterans, defense counsel and the local criminal justice bar as a whole. The application should include, but is not limited to, the following: Things EVERY VTC Participant Should Know: Program History and Purpose Eligibility & Admission Withdrawal Failure to Appear Termination Phases Approved over-thecounter medication Treatment Drug/Alcohol Screening Protocols Community Support Meetings Requirements Prescription medication restrictions Supervision Requirements Progress Reporting Incentives and Sanctions Educational and employment programs Social services and community resources Volunteer service requirements Participant Rules and Expectations Confidentiality Program Fees Performance and Responsibility contracts VTC Program Extension Possibility Graduation Requirements Contacts Veterans Court Pleas. Entry into Veterans Court requires a plea and plea agreement. However, the actual plea process differs from a plea in the ordinary course in that a diversionary court plea or Veterans Court Plea is administered by the Court. Eligible adult veteran offenders will be offered a choice between and the traditional court system. The offender is given the opportunity to discuss the case with an attorney prior to voluntarily entering the program. Once the applicant has been approved for admission by the District Attorney the opportunity is given to the VTC participant to review all documents and paperwork required for plea, including the consequences of the plea, with an attorney. Assuming entry, the applicant then pleads guilty before the court to the charged offense as indicated in the plea agreement. However, the adjudication of 18

20 the sentence is withheld and the applicant is NOT sentenced (a matter is not final until a defendant is sentenced not just having pleas accepted). The applicant then enters Phase I of the VTC. Program Discharge. There are three ways in which a defendant-participant may be discharged from the VTC Program. A participant may graduate, be terminated voluntarily or be terminated involuntarily by the Court. The respective situations for each are as follows: 1. Graduation: Participants are required to complete all Phases of the VTC in order to graduate from VTC. All minimum competencies are to be met in order to be eligible to successfully complete the program and graduate. Each phase and respective requirements are discussed in detail in the orientation phase and application phase, as well as at each docket of the VTC. The participant must maintain compliance with all court orders and be free of sanctions for a minimum of 12 weeks prior to graduation. The participant must have a minimum of 90 days of sobriety in order to be eligible to graduate, as evidenced by negative drug and/or alcohol testing. All fees, if any, must be paid prior to graduation or be scheduled for payment prior to graduation. Each participant must complete a Participant Graduation Questionnaire (See Appendix III) prior to graduation. Upon meeting all requirements for graduation, the participant and his or her family will be invited to a graduation ceremony in which the Judge will recognize each participant-graduate for completing the VTC. The graduate-participant s case is then dismissed (with prejudice) by the prosecutor. 2. Voluntary Withdrawal: The Program is voluntary and participants may voluntarily withdraw at any time. The VTC Program is onerous but normally in the best interests of a given defendant. Some participants are unable to comply with all of the VTC requirements and often times recognize their inability to stay in compliance before they are actually sanctioned by the Court. Should a participant withdrawal from the VTC Program then that participant shall be sentenced pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement that was signed prior to the plea by defendant. Participantdefendants shall not be permitted to withdraw their pleas of guilty unless the Constitution requires such a withdrawal. Sentencing finally adjudicates the matter and the participant is withdrawn from the VTC. 3. Involuntary Withdrawal: Participants may be involuntarily discharged from the program for non-compliance with participant s assessment and treatment OR if a participant incurs additional criminal charges while participating in VTC. The District Attorney s office files a motion in order for revocation proceedings to begin. It is also possible that the VTC Judge sua sponte involuntarily withdraw a participant from the VTC in the Judge s discretion and in the best interests of the overall VTC Program. The attorney for the participant will provide representation in any revocation proceedings but a participant may be revoked in absentia. A judge will make the final decision regarding termination. In case of revocation from VTC, the original sentence agreed upon at time of plea will be imposed. Sentencing finally adjudicates the matter. Both the defendant and her counsel must be present at sentencing. 19

21 VI. COURT STATUS REVIEW, INCENTIVES & SANCTIONS It is incumbent upon each VTC to review each participant s progress prior to each VTC docket. The Court should maintain a log of incentives and goals for each participant so that such can be tracked, developed and acknowledged appropriately upon success or failure. Veterans Treatment Court reviews are held on a regular basis to establish and reinforce the program polices, to ensure that participant needs are met, and to provide adequate supervision for all program participants and allow for interaction with the VTC judge. Each phase of the VTC shall come with an increase in required goals and responsibilities for each participant. These phases are designed to increase the confidence and independence of each participant while offering a holistic approach to each particular veterans personal situation. Participants shall meet with their mentors prior to every docket to discuss progress and direction toward assigned or stated goals. Prior to the court docket, the veteran-participant shall also meet with his or her assigned service officer and any appropriate resource liaisons to establish the clearest route toward reaching the participant s treatment, education and/or employment goals. The Court Status Review may also include incentives, if possible, to encourage all participants to excel in the VTC Program. Conversely, if a Court Status Review results in the realization that a participant has failed to meet the individual standards set by the VTC then the court shall offer incentives by way of sanction. The Court Status Review allows the judge to offer a wide range of additional treatment options to a given participant. The Judge should officially impose recommended sanctions and/or award incentives in the presence of all other VTC participants in order to allow those participants to understand the benefits of successful behavior and the sanction of failures. Phase promotions should also be addressed at this time. Participants are often asked to speak about their successes, as well as challenges, in an effort to offer hope and encouragement to others in the program. Graduation ceremonies, which are the ultimate Court Status Review decision, should be held in the presence of all mentors and participants to illustrate the achievements of all involved. Incentives & Sanctions. The program model identifies the implementation of incentives and sanctions as a means of behavioral modification. Incentives are awarded to participants for exhibiting desired behaviors, commendable acts, phase promotions, or any other behavior the team wants to encourage. Sanctions are implemented to reinforce compliance with VTC rules. The Court will individualize the implementation of sanctions and incentives as needed in order to create the most therapeutic environment possible. The VTC team will evaluate each participant s history, phase in the program, and his/her progress prior to recommending an incentive or sanction. In the case where it is determined that a participant requires additional or alternative treatment the team may recommend treatment in lieu of a sanction. Incentives. The Court may offer incentives for successes by any participant at any time. Normally incentives will be afoot in the early phases simply because the participant needs to experience smaller doses of success to get on positive footing with themselves and with the community. The greatest incentive is graduation from the VTC Program and diversion of the participant s criminal prosecution which is a fact that should not be lost on the Court of the participant. 20

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