Remember the ad campaigns for Miller Lite?
As many of you know the State Attorney’s Office has recently begun a drug diversion program through Advocate that some are referring to as “Drug Court Lite.” There has been some confusion as to how it is being implemented and who qualifies for it. In hopes of alleviating this confusion the members of the FACDL/SAO liaison committee asked to have the State Attorney clarify exactly how the program works. At our last meeting on June 4th Chief of Staff Esther Jacobo was kind enough to answer our questions and provide clarification as to the design of the program.
In summary, “Drug Court Lite” is not offered by the in court ASA- so don’t ask them. Rather, when a client is offered and accepts Drug Court as a diversionary plea they report to Drug Court as usual and are evaluated by the drug court program. If they are determined to be “low risk/low need” by the drug court evaluator they can then be placed in “Drug Court Lite.” “Drug Court Lite” is monitored by The Advocate Program not by the “Drug Court.” Your client will only be required to appear in court for the initial evaluation and then again to accept their nolle pros or other agreed upon resolution- hopefully. The program itself is geared specifically toward low need offenders and is not designed for people suffering from significant addiction issues. While the enrollees of “Drug Court Lite” are randomly screened for drug use the classes are more focused on how to make better life choices and not end up back in the criminal justice system as opposed to more classic drug treatment and assessment. The program is designed to run no less than 3 months; however, it is important that you do not give a finite timeline to your client as positive drug tests and failure to attend meetings can result in extended enrollment. If a client does test positive or violates they are then given the option of attending the full drug court program or returning to division.
Below please find the guidelines and procedures as set out by the State Attorney’s Office.
(Rumpole says…turn back now before it's too late!!)
· When defendant is (sort of a weird singular reference. Wouldn't it read better if it was "when defendants are..?) referred to drug court for screening there is no guarantee that he/she will be eligible to go into the Advocate program
· If they do qualify for the advocate program the following will be required.
o The time frame is no less than 3 months.
o Psycho –educational course (no more than 12 hours) For some defendants the course is available on line (A psycho educational course sounds only slightly less terrifying than a psycho-ex boyfriend or girlfriend)
o Remain arrest free (what's the opposite of arrest free? And by definition when arrested aren't you no longer free?)
o No drinking or drugs (Rumpole notes that people can only last a few days without consuming water, which they usually drink. This doesn't look good).
o Random drug testing (are they testing for random drugs or testing randomly? It's not clear. "hmmm…he's positive for insulin, coreg and xenacore- I'd say we have a diabetic, hypertensive person with high cholesterol on our hands.")
o All supervision will be done by Advocate and the defendant will not have to report to court until he successfully completes
· If the defendant is referred to advocate and violates any of the conditions he will be bounced out and may continue in full drug court or decide to go back to division.
· If upon screening the defendant is not eligible for advocate but is eligible for drug court he/she may choose to stay in drug court or go back to division
· There is NO PREP for the screening. We cannot give you the criteria that will make defendant eligible for the shorter program. The screening is done by trained professionals with an evidence based tool. (translated - "oh magic eight ball, which shall it be? drug court or drug court lite? ")
Thank you to Esther Jacobo and the Ms. Fernandez Rundle for the clarification. (And Rumpole's thoroughly unhelpful snide comments).
All the Best,