Substance Abuse Treatment Court
The federal and California state governments are jointly promoting the expansion of "drug treatment courts". Drug courts combine the close supervision of the judicial process with resources available through alcohol and drug treatment services. The goal is to reduce recidivism by maintaining drug offenders in a highly structured treatment setting until they establish a firm foundation for a clean and sober lifestyle.
Santa Barbara created the pre-conviction Substance Abuse Treatment Court (SATC) in March 1995. This program allows serious drug offenders to engage in 18 months of supervised treatment under a single treatment provider to earn a dismissal of the charge. The post-conviction Clean and Sober Calendar has been in operation since November 1994. This program allows convicted probationers to engage in 12 months of supervised treatment offered by a number of community based treatment providers as an alternative to jail time.
Eligibility and Evaluation:
Drug court programs are for non-violent offenders with felony or misdemeanor charges who demonstrate patterns of drug addiction or alcoholism. They are identified early in the court process by very experienced probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges as potential program participants. Defendants charged with drug possession, use of controlled substances, or with other non-violent offenses, such as theft, are considered for drug court programs if comprehensive assessment determines that serious substance abuse is a root cause of their criminal behavior.
Under the Clean and Sober program, the offender pleads guilty and engages in court monitored treatment as a term and condition of probation. In the SATC program, the defendant waives the right to have a jury trial before entering treatment. The offender agrees that failure in the treatment program will result in a trial where the judge only has to read the police report to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty. A treatment plan is developed for each participant which involves individual and group counseling, frequent drug testing, acupuncture to reduce cravings, regular AA or NA meetings and weekly court appearances.
To graduate, a defendant must complete the entire course of treatment and must have had no dirty tests or program violations for at least 6 months. Any failure in programming or dirty test is dealt with by use of graduated sanctions, from increased intensity of programming to incarceration. The Sheriff's Department has created the in-jail Sheriff's Treatment Program, where a problem participant might be sent for 30, 60 or 90 days of inpatient treatment.