DRUG TREATMENT COURT
Frequently Asked Questions

 

WHAT IS DRUG TREATMENT COURT?

It is a court supervised treatment program for offenders with serious substance abuse problems and most often a long history of repeat offenses.

The Drug Court encourages and promotes personal responsibility by holding participants accountable for their actions. Participants must go through two or more years of intensive outpatient treatment. During that two years, participants must attend intensive outpatient drug treatment, along with regular Drug Court sessions and community based support meetings as directed by the court and their treatment providers. (See below)

HOW IS DRUG COURT DIFFERENT FROM THE TRADITIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?

The goal of the traditional system is to prove guilt and incarcerate the offender. The goal of Drug Court is for the offender to acknowledge his or her guilt, restore personal responsibility, and complete effective treatment. 

HOW DOES THE TREATMENT WORK?

Drug Court participants voluntarily submit to several specific requirements over a minimum 24 month period: 

    •    Attend regular Court reviews with the Judge, court staff, defense attorney and assistant district attorney    

    •    Attend intensive substance abuse treatment

    •    Attend individual counseling sessions with a licensed and approved substance abuse counselor

    •    Attend regular status review meetings with court staff, including a social service caseworker, defense attorney and assistant district attorney  

    •    Submit to random drug screens at least twice per week 

    •    Gain, maintain, or improve employment options or enroll in school on a full-time basis

    •    Perform 80 hours of community service over the program period

    •    Pay $1500 towards the cost of treatment

    •    Pay any child support and restitution obligations

    •    Remain drug free for a least 12 months prior to graduation

    •    Allow unannounced community policing visits to their home to check curfew

    •    Work toward a G.E.D. ifnot already a high school graduate

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PARTICIPANT FAILS TO MEET THE CONDITIONS OF THE PROGRAM?

If the participant fails to abide by the conditions of the program the judge and the team hold the defendant accountable and sanctions will apply.

IF DRUG COURT DID NOT EXIST, WHAT WOULD NORMALLY HAPPEN TO THIS PERSON?

He or she would be found guilty, serve time, or submit to supervision by an overworked probation officer.  He or she would then promptly re-offend and repeat the cycle. While incarcerated, the offender would likely be exposed to an illicit prison drug trade.

With each cycle the drug offender would dig a deeper hole for himself or herself and cost taxpayers more and more money.  National statistics report that drug offenders are 60-80% likely to reoffend and be re-incarcerated.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR DRUG COURT?

    •    Adults with active substance abuse and dependency problems who are charged with non-violent felony offenses.  (For more details see contact information below) 

    •    Participants usually have a long history of prior offenses

    •    Participants must have at least three years of probation or three years of a jail sentence arising from a current offense or violation of probation

    •    Applicants must be willing to enter the program and be approved by their counsel and by the District Attorney 

The following persons are not be eligible for Drug Court:

    •    Those facing violent or sex-offender charges or gun-related charges

    •    Those with unresolved charges in other counties

    •    Those facing repeat convictions for the sale of illegal drugs and narcotics

    •    Those whose impairment would interfere with their ability to effectively participate and complete the program.  

IS DRUG COURT SUCCESSFUL?  

Yes. The national rate of recidivism (repeat offenses) among substance dependent offenders is estimated at 60-80%.  Recidivism among those completing our Drug Court program is approximately 19%. Chatham County statistics compare favorably to nation wide comparisons of similar programs.

According to a study released by the National Institute of Justice in 2003, from a sample of 17,000 drug court graduates nationwide, within one year of program graduation, only 16.4% had been rearrested and charged with a felony offense (Roman, Townsend, & Bhati, 2003). 

In a study completed in August of 2011, SCCDC’s felony re-arrest rate was 5.77% and felony conviction rate was 3.85% for graduates of the program within one year of graduation.  

The program works because participants are self-selecting and motivated, the standards are high and strict, the focus is on personal responsibility and accountability, and the treatment is individualized.  In Chatham County, Drug Court Participants attend 97% of all of their substance abuse treatments.The programs used by Drug Courts are evidenced based programs designed to address substance abuse, criminal thinking patterns, trauma related issues, and anger management. 

HOW DOES DRUG COURT HELP THE COMMUNITY?

* It saves money.  

First, while the offender is in the program, he is not in jail. It costs taxpayers $59 per day to incarcerate an individual in the Chatham County Jail, not including the cost of medical care if the individual has special medical needs, such as diabetes.  In contrast, Drug Court costs taxpayers approximately $16.21 per day ($6.21 paid for through the county budget). Second, for each graduate of the Drug Court program, the number of days in the future that he or she would otherwise have spent in jail represents a savings of $59 per day

* It reduces crime.

Without Drug Court, it is a near certainty that the offender would have committed some unknown number of future crimes, recycling back through the system. With Drug Court, those crimes – and their costs to the community -- don’t occur.

* It salvages lives and promotes citizenship.

Drug Court is a means for us as a community to answer the imperative of common decency, in helping people who want help, ask for help, and are willing to work for it. It allows a person who has lost his or her sense of personal dignity, and who has become a liability to society, to regain that sense of worth and to become a productive citizen.

WHO RUNS DRUG COURT AND WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

Drug Court is under the jurisdiction of the Chatham County Superior Court For more information about Drug Court, please contact:

Jean Cottier, Coordinator
133 Montgomery Street, Room 616
Savannah, GA31401
Phone:  (912) 652-7130
Fax:  (912) 652-7130
Email:  jcottier@chathamcounty.org

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