FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SERIES: Current Focus of Drug Court Programs

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1 JUSTICE PROGRAMS OFFICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SERIES: Current Focus of Drug Court Programs Subject: Current Focus of Drug Court Programs Within The Criminal Justice Process From: BJA Drug Court Clearinghouse Technical Assistance Project Date: April 14, 2010 In response to a number of recent inquiries regarding the current locus of drug court programs within the criminal justice process --e.g., how many are pre plea, post plea/predisposition, post adjudication, etc. and, particularly, how many provide the option of dismissal of the charge giving rise to drug court participation, the following inquire was distributed, with responses noted below. Question We have had a number of inquiries regarding the current focus of drug court programs e.g., how many are preplea, post plea, post adjudication, etc., and how many provide for dismissal of the charge if the participant successfully completes the drug court program. If you keep data on this, or have lists of drug courts within your state that have this information, could you kindly send it? We would also welcome responses from individual programs. If possible, please provide the information using the following definitions: (1) Pre plea drug courts that do not require the entry of a plea or other finding of guilt in order to participate; successful participants have their cases dismissed or nolle prossed; unsuccessful participants proceed with the processing of their case; (2) Post plea/pre disposition drug courts that require a plea for participation but strike the plea if the participant successfully completes the program; successful participants have their cases dismissed; unsuccessful participants have their plea entered and sentence is imposed; (3) Post adjudication/post disposition entry into the drug court is a condition of probation; participants who are successful have their probation terminated; unsuccessful participants may have a suspended sentence of incarceration imposed; (4) Probation Violators Drug Court - drug court is for individuals who have already violated their probation, have suspended sentences of incarceration which are about to be imposed, and are referred to the drug court as a last effort to avoid the imposition of the suspended sentence of incarceration; successful participants have their probation terminated and no sentence of incarceration is imposed; unsuccessful participants have their suspended sentences of incarceration imposed. If, of course, you have permutations of these models, please respond with a description of whatever procedures are applicable.

2 RESPONSES Note: Programs reporting from Honolulu Hawaii; Kentucky (one); the State of Louisiana, Austin, Texas, State of Utah, and the State of Vermont indicate that predisposition options are available. The remaining responses indicate that the programs in Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oklahoma are post adjudication/post disposition and/or for probation violators. (Categories 3 and 4). Nancy Taylor State Drug Court Coordinator California Administrative Office of the Courts CALIFORNIA We are almost all post plea, but there are some pre plea courts or mixed calendars still operating. Shane Bahr State Problem Solving Court Coordinator Colorado Judicial Department COLORADO Of the 20 adult criminal drug courts in Colorado, all are post plea. Most of them are Post sentence. One or two of the courts operate under a Deferred Sentence while a majority of the courts operate under a combination of post sentence/probation revocation model. Kimberly D. Joyner Connecticut State Drug Court Coordinator CONNECTICUT In Connecticut we have three drug intervention dockets (New Haven, Bridgeport and Danielson). These three courts are post plea/pre disposition, however they enter a plea with an agreement for disposition and that includes a Cap. A Cap being the highest sentence the offender could receive if he or she were not successful. Upon successful completion most offenders then get sentenced to a period of probation or have suspended sentences, very few end in complete dismissals. Even when offenders are not successful they have the right to argue a lesser sentence than the agreed upon disposition at plea or the Cap. Carlos Martinez Public Defender Dade County/Miami, Florida FLORIDA The Miami-Dade Adult Drug court operates as a pre-plea court. Dismissals after successful completion are the rule,

3 except in cases of participants with felony priors, who may be required to enter a plea and receive a withhold of adjudication upon completion of the program. Janice S. Bennett Administrator Hawaii Drug Court Program HAWAII About 80% of our clients are pretrial, meaning they have been arrested and charged, then opt for drug court before they plead. Once they plead, they are not eligible again until they are convicted, sentenced to probation, fail at probation and then apply as post-conviction (probation violator). Connie Payne State Drug Court Coordinator Administrative Office of the Courts of Kentucky KENTUCKY From the probation track, participants enter drug court at: Sentencing 54.5%, Probation Revocation 27.9% and Shock Probation %. 54 programs are post-plea and 1 is pre-plea. The majority of judges do not end probation upon successful completion of Drug Court, but rather amend the probation from active supervision to conditional discharge. With diversion, the charge is dismissed; with probation, the charge remains on the criminal history. Julia Spear Drug Court Program Director Louisiana Supreme Court LOUISIANA In Louisiana, all drug courts are post-adjudication as per the Louisiana drug court statute. Under the Louisiana drug court statute, when a person completes probation with the drug division, the DA may recommend that the probationer s conviction be set aside and the prosecution be dismissed because the probationer has successfully completed all the conditions of his/her probation and treatment agreement. Under certain circumstances in other provisions of the Louisiana criminal statutes, the probationer may have his/her record expunged.

4 MAINE Hartwell Dowling Diversion and Rehabilitation Coordinator Administrative Office of the Courts of Maine All Maine s criminal drug courts are post-plea/post-adjudication. Even if a person successfully completes the requirements of the drug court, they almost always have some sort of conviction it may have been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. I can t remember the last time all charges were dismissed. Judge Robert P. Ziemian Drug Court Judge Massachusetts District Courts MASSACHUSETTS As far as I know, all of the adult drug courts in Massachusetts fall into category #3 [e.g., post adjudication/post disposition] or #4 [probation violators], # 4 dominating. Based on Doug Marlowe's research, it is hard for me to envision how a court can concentrate on the high-risk, high-need defendants if your protocol falls into either #1 or #2. Ray Bilodeau State Drug Court Coordinator New Hampshire Administrative Office of the Courts NEW HAMPSHIRE All our courts are post plea or finding for the adults and post adjudicatory for juveniles. We presently have 2 adults drug courts and had 7 juvenile drug courts (at present 4 have case loads) We have 2 mental health courts for adults. NEW JERSEY Carol Venditto Statewide Drug Court Manager New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, Criminal Practice Division All NJ adult drug courts are post adjudication and we also accept probation violators who plead guilty to the VOP. If the person successfully completes the drug court program their conviction still remains the diversion is from what would otherwise have been a prison or jail term. NORTH DAKOTA John M. Gourde Program Manager North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

5 North Dakota has 5 adult drug courts and they are all post adjudication. On occasion, we have considered probation violators if numbers are low. I m interested in the states that are doing preplea and post/pre disposition, as I think there is more of an incentive to participate in the program. I think North Dakota could have more participants in the program if either a preplea or post plea/pre disposition were available. Jack F. Kelly Director of Specialty Courts of Oklahoma OKLAHOMA We have 41 drug courts and I think ours would fall under the post plea/predisposition definition. Judge Joel Bennett Divert Drug Court Austin, Texas Our court is a pre-plea court. Judge Dennis Fuchs (Ret.) Salt Lake City District Court Drug Court TEXAS UTAH We do not have any felony drug courts that operate pre-plea. About 50% of our participants are in drug court on pleas-in-abeyance. The other 50% are in either as a condition of probation or for a probation violation. We really do not keep these statistics but this is a very educated guess. Karen Gennette Vermont State Drug Court Coordinator VERMONT Vermont's 3 Adult Treatment Courts are post-plea/pre-disposition. If a person successfully completes the requirements of the drug court most of the time the charges are dismissed, and in some cases they are reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. Mary Taylor Drug Court Coordinator King County (Seattle) Drug Court Seattle, Washington WASHINGTON King County (Seattle):

6 The King County Adult Drug Diversion Court in Seattle, WA is a pre-adjudication model. At drug court opt-in, (formal enrollment in the program) defendants are required to stipulate to the facts in the police report. From the waiver and agreement between the defendant and the State: With respect to this/these charge(s), I understand that I have a right to contest and object to evidence that the State may present against me and to present evidence on my own behalf. With respect to this/these charge(s), I give up the right to contest and object to any evidence presented against me and to present evidence on my own behalf as to my guilt or innocence. I understand and agree that if I do not comply with the conditions of this agreement, a hearing will be held at which the State will present evidence related to this/these charge(s) included but limited to the police report and the results of any law enforcement field test. I understand that the judge will review the evidence presented by the State and will decide if I am guilty or not guilty of this charge based solely on that evidence. I waive my right under Criminal Rule 6.1(d) to written findings of fact and conclusions of law. If person completes the requirements and graduates from the drug court, their charges are dismissed. If they don t complete the requirements, the person is terminated and sentenced on their original charge. Other Drug Courts in the State of Washington: I did a straw poll and found that in Washington State, of the adult drug courts reporting, 11 were pre-plea, 1 was post-plea and 1 was a hybrid model. WYOMING Enid White State of Wyoming Court Supervised Treatment Program Manager Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Division Wyoming is all post plea/probation. At this time, they do not strike the plea for participants who successfully complete the program. They can cut time off their probation but there is no dismissal of charges. Kelly Stockstill, M.S. Research Coordinator NDCI-The Professional Services Branch of NADCP NATIONAL DRUG COURT INSTITUTE NDCI developed a National Survey on Drug Courts and other Problem-solving Courts to count the aggregate number of Drug Courts and other problem-solving courts as well as to identify trends within Drug Courts. This information is published annually in the NDCI publication Painting the Current Picture: A National Report Card on Drug Courts and Other Problem-Solving Court Programs in the United States. We have contacted all State Drug Court Coordinators for information and updates regarding their courts. The most recent information is as of December 31, Please see below. Please Note: This information is regarding Adult Drug Courts: 767 Probation/Post-Plea Adult Drug Courts, 157 Diversionary/Pre-Plea Adult Drug Courts, 268 Hybrid Pre/Post-Plea Adult Drug Courts, and

7 125 were Unknown. At this particular time, we only collect aggregate data. Therefore, there is no data regarding the outcome of the cases. *************************** [AU S NOTE: The 767 Probation/Post-Plea Adult Drug Court figures apparently include both programs that are post plea but pre disposition (Category # 2), and Probation Drug Courts (Category # 4), with no corresponding information on the case outcomes.] ************************** We welcome any additional information and/or perspective readers may have on this topic. BJA Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project Justice Programs Office, School of Public Affairs American University 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Brandywine, Suite 100 Washington D.C Tel: 202/ Fax: 202/ Web:

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