Mecklenburg STEP DWI Treatment Court Process Evaluation Report

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1 Mecklenburg STEP DWI Treatment Court Process Evaluation Report 2005 Prepared by innovation Research & Training, Inc. Address: 1415 W NC Highway 54 Suite 121, Durham, NC Voice: Fax:

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... 5 INTRODUCTION PURPOSE...7 MISSION PROGRAM GOALS HISTORY OF MECKLENBURG DWI P ROGRAM...8 HISTORY OF PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION AND MODIFICATIONS...9 METHODS AND PROCEDURES USED IN THE PROCESS EVALUATION... 9 PLANNING AND O RIENTATION...9 D ATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS...10 DE SCRIPTION OF DRUG COURT TEAM C OMPOSITION, ROLES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF TEAM MEMBERS...13 Drug Court Judge...13 Assistant District Attorney Assistant Public Defender Probation Officer Treatment Counselor Case Coordinator Program Director Local Management and Operations Committees...15 Conclusions and Recommendations B ACKGROUND TRAINING AND CONTINUING E DUCATION Drug Court Judge...17 Assistant District Attorney Assistant Public Defender Probation Officer Treatment Counselor Case Coordinator Program Director STABILITY OF STEP DWI TEAM MEMBERS Conclusions and Recommendations FUNCTIONING OF STEP DWI TEAM Conclusions and Recommendations...22 Conclusions and Recommendations...23 CHARACTERISTICS OF DRUG COURT PARTICIPANTS DEMOGRAPHICS AND BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS...24 Summary of Findings and Related Recommendations...37 DESCRIPTION OF CURRENT PROGRAM SELF-EVALUATION...38 PROGRAM OVERVIEW

3 REFERRAL ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA ADMISSION Conclusions and Recommendations PROGRAM CAPACITY...44 Conclusions and Recommendations DRUG COURT PHASE SYSTEM...45 Conclusions and Recommendations ANCILLARY SERVICES Conclusions and Recommendations SECURE CONTINUOUS REMOTE ALCOHOL MONITOR (SCRAM)...51 Conclusions and Recommendations SANCTIONS...56 INCENTIV ES / R EWARDS...61 Conclusions and Recommendations CASE MANAGEMENT AND JUDICIAL S UPERVISION...63 Conclusions and Recommendations TERMINATION...65 GRADUATION Conclusions and Recommendations G LOBAL IMPRESSIONS ABOUT THE STEP DWI PROGRAM TEAM MEM BER PERSPECTIVES...67 PARTICIPANT PERSPECTIVES...68 Conclusions and Recommendations CONSUMER SATISFACTION QUESTIONNAIRE RESULTS Summary EVALUATION OF KEY COMPONENTS KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT KEY COMPONENT CONCLUSIONS APPENDIX A APPENDIX B APPENDIX C APPENDIX D

4 APPENDIX E APPENDIX F

5 Mecklenburg DWI Treatment Court Process Evaluation Report Executive Summary Purpose Background Method To describe the operation of the Mecklenburg County STEP (Supervision, Treatment, Education, and Prevention) DWI Treatment Court. To compare the implementation of the court with the stated mission, goals, and operations described in Program grants, manuals, handbooks, and mandates. To describe the implementation of the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) technology and compare this to what is stated in the Memorandum of Agreement. To examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current implementation of the court. To make recommendations regarding possible improvements to the current court structure and operation. Established in 2000 as the first and only DWI Court in the state, this court meets biweekly but serves two separate caseloads, which meet only monthly. Court D participants are primarily Spanish-speaking and in Court C primarily English-speaking; the courts have separate case coordinators, probation officers, and ADAs. This DWI court targets repeat (Level I and II) DWI offenders and works in partnership with substance abuse treatment professionals to monitor and expunge alcohol and drug use as well as criminal behavior. This court has received national recognition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and also from the NDCI which selected it as a Model Court in Individual interviews were conducted with Team members from DWI Courts C and D, an AOC representative and with former participants. Two focus groups one with a sample of English speaking participants and the other with Latino participants were conducted. Participants also completed a Consumer Satisfaction Questionnaire. Observations of the treatment team meeting, the pre-court staff meeting, and the court session for Courts C and D were performed. Documents were reviewed; these included the MOA for SCRAM, the court contract, a Participant Agreement form, a SCRAM agreement form, the Participant Handbook, the Sanctions and Incentives Grids, and the Operations Manual. Quantitative analyses were conducted using data from the web-based MIS and AMS, the SCRAM monitoring agency. 5

6 Key Findings Overall, the court is functioning in accordance with the key components of Drug Treatment Courts, and the graduation rate is good. Observations, participant and team feedback indicated that AA/NA meetings and the Case Coordinators were key ingredients to the program s success. In addition, innovative programming and having a dedicated treatment liaison seem to be key contributors to good program outcomes. Although functioning well in these regards, data collected indicated some potential barriers to better outcomes in judicial supervision, ancillary services, and SCRAM implementation. Recommendations are made to potentially enhance functioning and participant compliance. Several different data sources suggested that the two court teams are not cohesive, that Team members disagree on some fundamental policies, and that the communication of important participant information is hindered by the monthly court schedule and poor attendance at the pre-court meetings. Factors limiting the evaluation were inconsistent program documentation and inaccurate or missing MIS data. Since February 2005, SCRAM has been used as a court sanction, a treatment tool and as a program requirement. Team members differ in their perceptions of how SCRAM should be used and how effective it is. Monitoring data obtained from the company distributing SCRAM indicates that participants wore SCRAM bracelets for 26 to 50 days. The body of the report discusses these findings in more detail and in relation to stated program policies and the Memorandum of Agreement. Key Recommendations Communication of program policies could be improved by updating and consolidating program materials related to sanctions and incentives, policies, participant handbooks, and admissions documents and deleting out-dated versions of these documents. A Team retreat might create a setting in which some of the cohesion and communication issues can be resolved. Data retrieved from the MIS frequently contained missing values and values that are not possible. These problems should be addressed with further training and monitoring of Team data entry. Judicial supervision could potentially be enhanced with full participation of Team members at pre-court staffings and a formalized procedure for communicating and responding to those behaviors and infractions needing an immediate court response or sanction. If the DWI Court and/or the AOC is considering an extension of the SCRAM pilot, it would be beneficial to conduct a controlled outcome evaluation with a cost-benefit analysis. 6

7 Mecklenburg STEP DWI Treatment Court Process Evaluation Report Introduction Purpose The primary purpose of this process evaluation report is to describe the structure, organization, and operations of the Mecklenburg STEP (Supervision, Treatment, Education, and Prevention) DWI Treatment Court and also to identify the strengths and barriers of the court. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts and the Bureau of Justice Assistance require periodic process evaluations, and this practice is supported by the North Carolina Governor s Crime Commission. A drug court process evaluation documents and describes the current court operation, its strengths, and the areas in which it could improve its functioning. Based on observations, interviews, and analyses of quantitative data, recommendations are made for improvements to the organization, structure, and overall operation of the program. It may also comment on the match between stated treatment goals and court functioning. A process evaluation differs from an outcome evaluation in that it does not examine and evaluate the effectiveness of the drug treatment court in terms of reducing recidivism, substance abuse, and addiction. At various points within this report, excerpts from program materials and from interviews are reported verbatim in order to retain the nuances intended by the court or by the interviewee. This report describes the results of the process evaluation conducted on the functioning of the DWI program. Data for this evaluation was conducted between June 21, 2005 and September 14, During this time, the STEP DWI Treatment Court personnel were in flux and treatment services were in jeopardy due to budget uncertainties. In addition, the SCRAM pilot was short-lived and potentially affected by a short period of implementation. As the evaluation was being conducted, the SCRAM pilot was nearing its end, which may also have affected implementation. This process evaluation attempts to document these changes and to qualify the evaluation s results based on this knowledge; however, due to the nature and timing of these changes, information collected and presented for this evaluation may not reflect changes to Court operations and implementation that occurred in mid- or late September Mission The mission of the STEP DWI Treatment Court, as stated in the Operations Manual is: To reduce drug and alcohol dependence, criminality and incarceration of substance addicted offenders through court directed drug and alcohol treatment programs that provide a continuum of appropriate treatment and other necessary services under closed supervision. 7

8 Program Goals North Carolina Adult Drug Treatment Court Goals The goals of Adult Drug Treatment Courts in North Carolina, as adopted by the State legislature and recorded in the Report on the Status of North Carolina s Pilot Drug Treatment Court Program (1998), are as follows: 1. To reduce alcoholism and other drug dependencies among offenders; 2. To reduce recidivism; 3. To reduce the drug-related court workload; 4. To increase the personal, familial, and societal accountability of offenders; and 5. To promote effective interaction and use of resources among criminal justice personnel Local Program Goals and Objectives The 2004 edition of the STEP DWI Treatment Court Operations Manual does not specifically state any program goals, but does state several objectives, which are as follows: 1. To introduce and maintain recovery from drugs and alcohol among dependent offenders through treatment, self-help and community support; 2. To reduce recidivism among dependent offenders; 3. To improve legal employment among dependent offenders; 4. To improve overall health, familial, and social functioning of dependent offenders; 5. To improve the involvement of family members and significant others in treatment and recovery issues; 6. To reduce or improve the function of, pre-trial confinement time for AOD dependent offenders; 7. To promote the successful completion of probation and reduce probation revocations and incarceration of dependent offenders; 8. To promote effective interaction, management, cross-training, and use of resources among judicial personnel, agencies, and the community; and 9. To reduce the negative impact of AOD dependent offenders on court workloads. History of Mecklenburg DWI Program In 1995, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the North Carolina Drug Treatment Court Act, housing the pilot drug treatment programs in the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The General Assembly gave the AOC the power to facilitate the creation and funding of local drug treatment courts in North Carolina. The STEP DWI Treatment Court was initially funded through county funds and began operation in March of 2000, with a second court beginning operations in April of The case manager for the second court was funded through Governor s Crime Commission (GCC) funds for Case Management Enhancement. Since then, the program seems to have been funded through a larger 8

9 Mecklenburg county grant submitted to the GCC. Finding diverse and sustainable sources of funding has become a primary focus of the STEP DWI Treatment Court program administrators. History of Program Implementation and Modifications At a 1DTC Training session in the late 1990 s, Steve Ward and Judge Philip Howerton lobbied to allow the Mecklenburg District Court to serve DWI offenders in the regular DTC program. This resulted in 15 DWI offenders in the DTC by the end of that year. The number of DWI offenders eligible to participate in the DTC grew to a number sufficient to fill a separate court caseload. In 1999, Judge Howerton led a movement to find funding for a separate DWI court to serve these offenders. It was hypothesized that serving a more homogeneous group with services tailored to those needs could result in better outcomes. When planning for DWI court began, the AOC suggested including a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the planning of the court program and the assessment of participant compliance. Several other key individuals were involved in the original planning, these were Steve Ward, an Assistant District Attorney, Karen Simon, and Judge Howerton. Using county funds, Mecklenburg implemented its first DWI Court in In 2002 the program was nominated by MADD to receive a national award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving. Based on the numbers of eligible DWI offenders, and the perceived success of the first program, a second program was implemented in April of 2002 with GCC funds. The DWI Treatment Court received another honor in 2004 when it was selected as Model Court by the NDCI. According to team members, several changes have been implemented since the court s inception. Although the court originally met every three weeks, schedule limitations led the team to process cases monthly and meet bi-weekly (with alternating caseloads) to accommodate the second court and meet DTC standard of bi-weekly meetings. The most recent change in implementation involves the pilot use of SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring). SCRAM allows a transdermal analysis of sweat to detect the presence of alcohol, and in February 2005, it was introduced to the DWI court as a sanction. According to court documents, this trial lasted from February to June 30 of 2005, after which time no new offenders could be sanctioned with the SCRAM ankle bracelet. Planning and Orientation Methods and Procedures Used in the Process Evalu ation In order to introduce and orient all relevant staff and team members to the process evaluation, an initial orientation meeting was held prior to beginning the evaluation. Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, President of Innovation Research and Training (IRT) and Project Director for the Process Evaluation, and Dr. Jacqueline Hansen, AOC Evaluation Specialist/Research Coordinator, convened the initial orientation meeting. Other representatives of the AOC and of the drug courts being evaluated, along with IRT evaluation staff, were also present at the meeting. The agenda for the orientation meeting included a 9

10 welcome and a discussion of the need for the process evaluation; an introduction of IRT team leaders; a description of the respective roles of each entity (e.g., AOC, IRT, and treatment court team members) involved in the process evaluation; the research plan and methods to be used in conducting the evaluation; and the representative tasks and timelines for the evaluation. Treatment Court administrators were informed of the importance of providing all pertinent information in accordance with the stated timeline due to the brief period of time between data collection and report dissemination. Due to the stringent nature of the timeline, any materials that were not received from the courts by the stated deadline were not included in the final report. Data Collection and Analysis There were three types of data and methods used to collect and analyze data for this process evaluation report: quantitative data, qualitative data and observational data. The collection and analysis of each of these forms of data is discussed in detail in the following sections. Quantitative data. Quantitative data and methods were used to describe the population that has been served by the STEP DWI Treatment Court from its inception through June, 2005, and to begin to describe the characteristics of current, revoked and successfully graduated drug court participants. The data for these quantitative analyses were obtained from the current AOC Evaluation Specialist/Research Coordinator. The quantitative data collected included demographic characteristics of both the eligible and the ineligible populations, information regarding the primary drug of choice for each client, and information regarding the client s history and involvement in the Drug Treatment Court. The original datasets were stripped of identifying information, such as names and identification numbers, in order to ensure anonymity. A unique but non-identifying identification number was assigned to each participant, and questionnaire data were combined into a single database using this number. Analyses were conducted to describe the demographic and background characteristics of clients, such as age, race/ethnicity, educational and employment status, primary drug of choice of drug court participants, and trends related to program capacity and compliance. In addition, quantitative data methods were used to describe participants level of satisfaction with their treatment court experience. Current participants completed a Consumer Satisfaction Questionnaire at the close of a designated court session. The Consumer Satisfaction Survey asked participants to provide information regarding their demographic and background characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, employment status, marital status and family composition. In addition, the survey asked participants to report on different aspects of their treatment court experience, such as length of time spent in court, primary drug-of-choice, criminal charges that led to drug court sentencing, and criminal and treatment histories. Participants were then asked to rate their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the drug court program, including treatment services, sanctions and incentives, drug testing, community service activities, and court sessions. Finally, participants were asked to rate the level of difficulty of complying with various program requirements, including attendance at scheduled appointments, cooperating with treatment programs and services, cooperating with drug testing, paying court fines and fees, and staying clean, sober and drug-free. The Consumer Satisfaction Survey can be seen in Appendix A. Qualitative data. Qualitative data were also collected based upon three different types of open-ended interviews. First, two one-hour focus groups were conducted with two groups containing between two and six current program participants. The Moderator s Guide used in conducting the interviews covered 10

11 topics such as the most and least helpful aspects of the Drug Treatment Court program, barriers to full program participation, feedback about sanctions and incentives, and the impact of the drug court on participants lives. The focus groups were conducted in the group therapy rooms at the treatment site and were led by trained project staff members from irt. Prior to beginning the focus groups, the moderators reviewed the consent forms with focus group members, and answered participants questions. The moderators then followed the protocol outlined in the Moderator s Guide. One group contained Spanish- speaking participants, and the focus group was conducted in Spanish. Additionally, five graduated participants from the STEP DWI program were available to be interviewed by irt staff. Those who were interviewed varied in gender, race, and ethnicity. The graduates were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Trained project staff members from irt conducted the interviews via telephone. The interview covered such topics as the most and least helpful aspects of the Drug Treatment Court program, barriers to participation in the drug court program, feedback about sanctions and incentives, and how the drug court has impacted the lives of the participants. Prior to beginning the interview, the interviewer reviewed the consent form with the participant and answered any questions. The interviewer then followed the protocol outlined in the interview guide to complete the interview. The phone number for one terminated participant was given to an irt staff member in order to conduct an interview. Information regarding the terminated participant perspective is lacking in this report since the multiple attempts made at contacting this participant were unsuccessful. Finally, individual interviews lasting between one and two hours were conducted with eight Drug Court team members. The semi-structured interviews covered topics such as program history, the most and least helpful aspects of the Drug Treatment Court program, the respective roles of team members, barriers to implementing the drug court program, feedback about sanctions and incentives, and the impacts the drug court has had on participants lives. Individual interviews were conducted either in team members offices or by telephone, and were led by trained project staff members from irt. Prior to beginning the interview, the interviewer reviewed the consent form with the staff member being interviewed and answered any questions. The interviewer then followed the protocol outlined in the interview guide in order to complete the interview. Responses to each question were transcribed and recorded into a database so that answers could be compared across current participants, team members, and former participants. If all respondents agreed on an item, then it was reported as such. Cases in which disagreement occurred across respondents were noted and described in the text. Observational data. Observational methods were used to gather information regarding the processes used in pre-court team meetings and in court sessions. For the pre-court team meetings and treatment team meetings, trained irt staff observed and noted the following: the types of issues discussed and the amount of time spent on each issue; the decision-making process; the interaction among team members; and the respective roles of each of the team members. Information was recorded using the Team Meeting Observation Checklist, designed by irt. For the court sessions, trained irt staff observed and rated the overall atmosphere within the court, the interaction among team members, and interactions between the Judge and the participants. Information was recorded using the Observational Coding Sheet for Court Proceedings, also designed by irt. 11

12 Historical Information. Documents pertaining to the history, implementation, modification and funding of the court were also analyzed for this process evaluation. Documents reviewed included program manuals, several interagency memos and documents regarding SCRAM, the national DWI treatment courts manual, a Memorandum of Understanding, participant contracts, and SCOT analyses. Documents that could not be obtained included original grant proposals submitted for the implementation of the court and award letters for grants received. A representative from the AOC was interviewed regarding historical information about the formation and implementation of the court. Trained irt staff members collected, reviewed and incorporated information from these sources into the process evaluation where appropriate. 12

13 Description of Drug Court Team Composition, Roles, and Responsibilities of Team Members Orientation Procedures Team members reported that orientation is accomplished through on-the-job training, an informal shadowing process, and review of the Operations Manual. Case Coordinators are oriented to their position by the Program Director, and other team members shadow fellow team members experienced in their area of practice. In most cases, before a team member leaves his or her position on the team, he or she orients the new team member who will be assuming his or her responsibilities. New team members are also oriented through attendance at staffing meetings, and observations of the bi-weekly court sessions. In addition to the informal shadowing and on-the-job training, new team members are given the Operations Manual to review. The manual states the mission of the STEP Program, the roles and responsibilities of each team member, the organizational structure of the Program, and the policies and procedures that direct the functioning of the Program. A few Team members expressed some confusion about other Team members roles and responsibilities. In addition, several Team members requested cross-training related to learning more about the other aspect of the Court Team, i.e. mental health and substance abuse issues vs. criminal justice and law issues. Organizational Structure The organizational structure of the STEP DWI Program has two components: the Court Team members and members of the Operations Committee. According to the proposed Best Practices Guidelines provided by the AOC, the primary responsibility of the Core Team is to assure the effective functioning of the in-court process of each court session, so as to attain the long-range rehabilitative goals of the DTC. The Court Team members attempt to directly affect the success of the participants and the Program. The Operations Team members attempt to resolve policy and operational disputes that affect participant and Program success. Issues that cannot be resolved by the Court Team are directed to the Operations Committee by the Program Director. Members of the Court Team include: the Judge, Program Director, Assistant Public Defender, Assistant District Attorney, Probation Officer, Treatment Provider Liaison, Trial Court Coordinator, and Case Coordinators. Members of the Operations Committee include all presiding Judges, the senior agency representatives, Program Director, Trial Court Coordinator, and Operations Coordinator. The roles and responsibilities of the members of each team member are listed below. Drug Court Judge According to the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts and the Mecklenburg DWI Operations Manual, the Judge is a mentor and an encourager who is to lead participants through the recovery process. The Judge s primary role is to motivate the participants towards success while holding them accountable for their actions. This is accomplished through the monitoring of the participant s progress in the monthly court sessions and by issuing rewards and sanctions. Additionally, the Judge 13

14 presides over and establishes proper decorum for court sessions, explains program requirements to the participants, establishes a supportive relationship with the participants, and monitors their progress. Assistant District Attorney The proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts and the STEP DWI Operations Manual state that the primary responsibilities of the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) are to ensure that participants are held legally responsible for their actions and that the rights of the victim and the community at large are protected. The ADA accomplishes these tasks while working toward achieving the long-term rehabilitative goals of the program. Because the DWI program is a post-plea program, and screening for legal eligibility is not necessary, the role of the ADA is limited to making recommendations concerning graduated sanctions, graduation, and dismissal of charges, and ensuring that transfers or termination from the program are in compliance with the appropriate guidelines. In addition, the ADA is responsible for establishing a constructive relationship with each participant and informing participants about the consequences of non-compliance or new arrests. Assistant Public Defender The STEP Operations Manual and the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts state that the role of the Defense Attorney or Assistant Public Defender is to ensure that the participants achieve the rehabilitative goals of the program while protecting the participants constitutional rights. More specifically, the STEP Operations Manual requires that the Defense Attorney/Assistant Public Defender advise participants of their constitutional rights, explain the purpose and requirements of participation in the program and the consequences of program completion or non-compliance, make recommendations to the participant regarding admission into the program, and represent the participants in each court session. Probation Officer According to the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts and the Mecklenburg County STEP Operations Manual, the role of the Probation Officer is to provide supervision for participants and to ensure that they are held accountable. In addition, the Mecklenburg County STEP Operations Manual requires that the Probation Officer assist the Case Coordinator in investigating the client s criminal history in reference to eligibility, treatment, and program evaluation, monitor participant compliance, and ensure prompt substance testing and results. Additionally, the Probation Officer is also required to provide ongoing communication with the Case Coordinator concerning the participants progress in treatment and any obstacles that may impede that progress in the treatment or in the program. Treatment Counselor The STEP Operations Manual states that the Treatment Provider is responsible for providing individual, group, and family treatment services, and providing regular reports to the court concerning treatment progress, drug screen results, attendance records, and any relevant case information. Treatment Providers must also conduct or assist in urinalysis testing, participate in the establishment of memoranda of agreement with other agencies to provide support services to participants, and help maintain a nonadversarial atmosphere. The DWI Program is served by several Treatment Providers at the Southeast Addiction Institute and Learning Center, Inc (SAIL). They all attend the treatment staffing meetings, but only one of these providers (the Treatment Provider Liaison) attends the pre-court staffing meetings. The role of the 14

15 Treatment Provider Liaison is to establish a bridge between the criminal justice and treatment systems. His or her primary responsibilities, as stated in the Operations Manual, include collaborating and maintaining a good working relationship with DTC staff, assisting the criminal justice system and the treatment system in resolving confidentiality issues, providing reports to the Criminal Court Coordinator in a timely manner, and helping to maintain a non-adversarial atmosphere. Case Coordinator According to the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts, the Case Coordinator is responsible for screening and assessing potential clients, supervising a caseload of active and inactive participants, and maintaining client records. The Case Coordinator is also responsible for assisting in the coordination of drug screens, preparing client progress reports, accessing ancillary services for clients, coordinating communications between the DTC and all relevant agencies and program members, and performing any other duties assigned by the Program Director. The list of responsibilities of the Case Coordinator in the Mecklenburg County STEP Operations Manual fall in line with the requirements of the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts and add a few more responsibilities. The STEP Operations Manual further states that the Case Coordinator is required to maintain the MIS system, prepare and present client progress reports, ensure all local, state, and federal AOD confidentiality standards are maintained, and maintain thorough, current, and verified files. Criminal Court Coordinator The Mecklenburg County STEP Operations Manual states that the Criminal Court Coordinator must oversee and coordinate daily program operations, including case management services, treatment services, and court operations. Additionally, the Criminal Court Coordinator monitors screenings and the compliance of team members to program policies, procedures and protocol. The Criminal Court Coordinator also acts as a back up for the Case Coordinator if needed. Program Director According to the proposed Best Practices for Model Drug Treatment Courts, the Program Director oversees the day-to-day functioning of the court, supervises case management services, and develops strategic planning and guidelines in order to remain in compliance with this proposed model. The Program Director installs and maintains quality control for all program management, serves as the central repository of all communication and information concerning the local court, and establishes and maintains linkages between and among all persons and agencies in connection to the local court. In addition to these responsibilities, the Program Director also provides staff support to the Local Management Committee and management support to the presiding Judge, maintains administrative oversight of all research, data collection, and program evaluation initiatives, and conducts all financial reporting and funding applications for the Drug Treatment Court program. Local Management and Operations Committees According to the AOC Best Practice Guidelines, all drug treatment courts should have a Local Management Committee that meets regularly to ensure the effective operation of the court. The duties of the Local Management Committee include reviewing and updating the court s mission, goals, guidelines, and procedures; exploring possible funding sources; reviewing the results of self-evaluations; reviewing the performance or agencies or individuals providing services; and overseeing the court s budget. 15

16 The STEP DWI Treatment Court operates under the direction of the Mecklenburg County Drug Treatment Court Management Committee, and the Mecklenburg county Drug Treatment Court Operations Committee. As stated in the Operations Manual, the Local Management Committee is responsible for adopting local guidelines and procedures necessary for the operation, evaluation and success of the [Drug Treatment Court] program. A list of members of the Local Management Committee is provided in the Mecklenburg DTC Program, Action Plan. They include: A Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, A Chief District Court Judge, An Assistant District Attorney, An Assistant Public Defender, A Clerk of Superior Court, A Chief Probation Officer, A Trial Court Administrator, A member of the Private Criminal Defense Bar, A local Law Enforcement Officer, A representative of a local community college, The Drug Court Program Director, The Drug Court Operations Coordinator, A representative of the Mecklenburg County Health Department, A representative of Local Area Mental Health. The Mecklenburg County Local Management Committee includes representation from all but one of the individuals recommended by the proposed AOC Best Practice Guidelines. The only individual not included is a representative from a local treatment provider agency. However, the SAIL Treatment Provider Liaison is represented in the Operations Committee. Court administrators reported that the Local Management Committee meets on a quarterly basis, and fulfills its duties as described in court materials. Administrators reported that they attempted to recruit representation from the local Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) office, but the request was denied. The Local Management Committee plans to recruit former graduates of Mecklenburg DTC programs to serve on this committee. The Mecklenburg County Operations Committee is comprised of involved department or agency directors or representatives from all of the Mecklenburg County DTC programs. The court team handles the day- to the Operations to-day court-related problems, but when unable to resolve an issue, the problem is sent Committee. This committee meets monthly and includes the following members: the Superior Court Presiding Judges, the District Court Presiding Judges, DTC Program Director, Senior Assistant Public Defender, Senior Assistant District Attorney, Probation Supervisors, Treatment Provider Liaisons, Criminal Court coordinator, Operations Coordinator, FIRST Court Coordinator, and Youth Treatment Court Coordinator. According to Operations Manual, the committee operates within established program policies and procedures in a constructive process to resolve policy and operational disputes that affect client success and program effectiveness. Issues that cannot be resolved by the Operations Committee are directed to the Local Management Committee by the Program Director. The DWI administrators reported that the Operations Committee adequately provides support and direction to the program, and oversees its implementation. 16

17 Conclusions and Recommendations In general, the drug court team is in compliance with proposed Best Practice Guidelines; however, at the time of this report, there was one exception-- the lack of representation by the designated treatment provider (SAIL) on the Local Management Committee (LMC). This could be addressed by inviting a SAIL representative to participate in the LMC, but may not be essential given that SAIL representatives participate in the Operations Committee. Orientation is not standardized, and the confusion that some Team members expressed about other Team members roles, may in part reflect this. This confusion might be addressed with more standardized orientation procedures as well as more cross-training related to mental health and substance abuse issues and criminal justice and law issues. Several Team members requested cross-training, and this could be delivered by other Team members in an informal educational seminar. Background Training and Continuing Education Drug Court Judge Judge Philip Howerton holds a Masters Degree in Public Affairs from Princeton and a law degree from UVA. He has been practicing law for nearly thirty years as an Assistant District Attorney, an Assistant Public Defender, a Public Defender, and a private practitioner. He was appointed to a judgeship in Judge Howerton has been involved with the STEP DWI Treatment Court since its inception and took a leading role in the creation of the STEP DWI Treatment Court and the STEP DTC in Mecklenburg County. Judge Howerton has attended numerous state and national DTC training and is currently on the Board of the National Association of Drug Court Personnel s subcommittee for DWI courts. Assistant District Attorney The team members report that there is an ADA dedicated to the District Courts STEP Program; however, the District Attorney s office rotates other ADAs through the Program in an attempt to expose all of the ADA staff to the functioning of the STEP Program. Presently, there are two Assistant District Attorneys who work with the STEP DWI program: Justin Davis and Stephen W. Ward. Stephen W. Ward holds a B.A. in History from North Carolina State University and a J.D. from Mercer University. He has served as an Assistant District Attorney in Charlotte for twenty years. Prior to this position, Mr. Ward served as an Assistant Public Defender for five years. He designed and implemented the Fast Track Drug Court of Charlotte, and aided in the establishment of the first Drug Treatment Court in North Carolina. Mr. Ward served as the District Attorney Liaison to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for over three years, headed the Felony Crime-Against-Person Unit in the Department for two years, and currently heads the Felony Crimes-Against-Property Unit. He is an experienced consultant and lecturer, and is a member of the adjunct faculty at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte. Mr. Ward has served on the State of NC Drug Court Advisory Board, and has been working with the STEP DWI Treatment Court in his current capacity since its inception. Justin Davis holds a law degree and has three years experience working as a Mecklenburg ADA. He is specifically assigned to the Misdemeanor Appeals section of the District Attorney s office, and has been a STEP DWI team member for eleven months. Mr. Davis has not attended any state or national training 17

18 sessions, but reported that he was oriented to his job through on-the-job training, and by the ADA who preceded him. Mr. Davis will soon be leaving the STEP DWI program and will be replaced by a new ADA. Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Trosch is the Public Defender who usually works with the STEP DWI Treatment Court. She was on maternity leave at the time of this evaluation. As a result, Bob Ward, the Public Defender substituting for Ms. Trosch, was interviewed to obtain basic information about the court s functioning and the Public Defender s role on the court. Although knowledgeable about all of the Mecklenburg drug courts, Mr. Ward had only been serving the STEP DWI Treatment Court for a few weeks at the time of the interview evaluation. As a result, the Assistant Public Defender s perspective may not be adequately represented in this report. Probation Officer There are two Probation Officers for the STEP DWI program: Lisa Ray and Bridget Johnson. These two probation officers have separate caseloads; one works with the primarily Hispanic court and the other with the primarily Anglo court. Lisa Ray holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement and Corrections. She has worked with the Department of Corrections for more than nine years and has been a STEP DWI team member since June Although Ms. Ray has not attended any formal state or national trainings, she reported that she was oriented and trained for her position by Bridget Johnson, as well as through shadowing and on-the-job training. Bridget Johnson holds a Bachelor s of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Social Work obtained from UNC Charlotte, and a Master s Degree in Christian Education obtained from Pfeiffer University. Although Ms. Johnson has not attended any formal state or national training sessions, she has attended sanctions and incentives training sessions in Raleigh, North Carolina. She reported that she was oriented and trained for her new position through shadowing and through on-the-job training. Treatment Counselor There are eight treatment counselors who work with the STEP DWI participants; however, Carly Thorpe is the Treatment Provider Liaison to the program. Ms. Thorpe is working towards a Master s Degree in Human Services. She is currently employed at SAIL, the STEP DWI Program s contracted Treatment Provider. Ms. Thorpe has been a STEP DWI team member for two years. Although not a requirement of Best Practices or of the Operations Manual, Ms. Thorpe has attended a state Drug Treatment Court conference and other in-house training sessions. She reported that she was oriented to and trained for her job through previous work experiences, informal shadowing, and on-the-job training. Case Coordinator There are two Case Coordinators for the STEP DWI Treatment Court: Edna Ramos and Yvonne Jones. Edna Ramos holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and has been a member of the STEP DWI program for three years. She works primarily with the Latino participants. Prior to working for the STEP DWI program, Ms. Ramos worked in Social Services and in a Women s Correctional Facility. She reported that she was oriented to and trained for her position through previous work experiences and onthe-job training. Ms. Ramos has attended several classes on addiction and recovery. 18

19 Yvonne Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, and has been a member of the STEP DWI program since October Prior to working with the STEP DWI program, Ms. Jones worked with reentry courts and with the court system for three years. Her responsibilities included screening for diversion and domestic violence programs. Ms. Jones has attended DTC trainings and several workshops dealing with issues such as substance abuse, the development of case plans, and issues surrounding diverse substance abuse populations. Criminal Court Coordinator Rosalind James received a Bachelor s Degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Substance Abuse. Ms. James has been a STEP DWI team member since She first entered the Program as a Case Coordinator, but then transitioned to the position of the Operations Coordinator, which she held for two years. Ms. James later moved into a supervisory role as the Criminal Court Coordinator, a position that she has held for three years. Ms. James has attended state and national drug court trainings as well as an ACT1 training, which focused on mental health issues. She is also currently enrolled in the Public Manager Program, offered by the Office of State Personnel. Program Director Janeanne Tourtellott has served as the current Program Director for three years. Ms. Tourtellott holds a Bachelor s Degree in Business, a Master s Degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling, and School Counseling. Prior to her employment as the Program Director for the Drug Treatment Court Programs, she worked as a supportive services manager for two years. The STEP Operations Manual does not specifically require that the Program Director attend trainings and conferences applicable to the position and its responsibilities; however, Ms. Tourtellott has attended state and national drug court trainings. Team Comments on Training Several team members reported that they would like more training. Some reported that a lack of understanding of other Team members roles and responsibilities exists on the Team. Cross-training between the judicial and mental health components was requested by several Team members, and another area of training interest mentioned was cultural sensitivity training related to the Latino group. Stability of STEP DWI Team Members Two of the eleven STEP DWI team members have been involved in the program since its inception. All other team members have been with the program for at least one year. The team has been relatively stable with the exception of the one rotating ADA position. The SCOT analysis for FY noted that the program has encountered a number of difficulties in the past securing an ADA and an Assistant Public Defender specifically dedicated to a position on the team. The STEP DWI Team is comprised of team members who believe in the drug court treatment model, and are dedicated to serving their clients. However, some Team members reported concerns about burn out, or overexertion, among staff members. One team member commented that it is difficult to avoid being emotionally or mentally burdened by the personal struggles of the participants. Another team member 19

20 suggested that the program implement a system in which team members are given a psychological evaluation before and during their tenure with the program in order to identify and prevent overexertion. Conclusions and Recommendations The STEP DWI Treatment Court Team members are all well-qualified to perform their job duties; however, there is a relatively high turnover rate on this Team. As a result, during times of turnover, it may be difficult for the Team to maintain this same level of functioning. In the words of one Team member: [it is] not until someone is comfortable in their position that they perform well at it According to Team members, there has been an especially high turnover rate with the Public Defender and District Attorney positions. It would be helpful to overall team functioning if a Public Defender and District Attorney could be dedicated to the STEP DWI Treatment Court. Some Team members expressed concerns about burn out. The extent of these feelings and the cause of this stress and frustration should be explored by the Team, perhaps in a Team retreat setting. Functioning of STEP DWI Team Observations of Treatment Team and Pre-Court Staffing Meetings There are two functioning courts (Courts C and D) with separate caseloads in the STEP DWI program. Although these courts function separately, the same judge presides over both courts, and the court structures and procedures are similar. Prior to each court session, participants cases are reviewed in both a treatment team meeting and a pre-court staffing. Treatment Team Meeting The treatment team meeting for each court takes place six days prior to the court session. During this meeting, each client s progress is discussed in depth by the treatment team, which includes treatment providers, the Southeast Addiction Institute and Learning Center (SAIL) Director, the Case Coordinator, and the Probation Officer. These meetings typically last for one to two hours. In the treatment team meetings, the Case Coordinator leads the discussion of each client, and other members of the treatment team offer additional information about the client s status. As observed in the treatment team meeting for both courts, all team members were given equal opportunity to voice their opinion about specific treatment or sanction recommendations; however, the Case Coordinator and the Treatment Counselor, who both work directly with the client, contributed the most. The Director of the treatment program also participated actively and voiced concerns about particular clients. Although the structures of the treatment team meeting for Court C and D are similar, the two Case Coordinators have different approaches to leading the meetings and facilitating group decisions about sanctions and incentives. In the treatment team meeting for one of the courts, all members of the treatment staff participated; however, several staff members intermittently left and returned to the meeting, while only the Case Coordinator and the Director of SAIL were present for the entire meeting. In most cases, the discussions involved a review of drug screenings and SCRAM results (when applicable), treatment attendance, general program compliance, and sometimes issues related to mental 20

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