Collaborative Courts

Mission Statement: San Joaquin County Collaborative Court is a set of comprehensive court programs, which use evidence based practices to assist individuals in achieving total abstinence from drugs and alcohol, increase public safety, promote family reunification and return participants to the community as a productive and responsible member of society. The purpose of the Collaborative Courts is to arrest the damaging and costly cycle of substance abuse addiction, crime and incarceration by providing court-monitored treatment, promoting self-efficiency and accountability.

The Collaborative Courts are an evidence based drug court model, which establishes a court team that builds on a long lasting partnership of community provided services that involve county government, including the Board of Supervisors and Superior Court administration. The Collaborative Courts work with individuals and families in the criminal justice, and child welfare systems that have been met with the challenge of substance abuse, mental illness and other social welfare issues. Clients are supervised by judicial officers who oversee the client treatment progress through regular court hearings, which includes the use of incentives and sanctions. It is vital that this community collaborative creates access to substance abuse and mental health treatment along with a myriad of additional agencies that provide academic and vocational programming, social services for offenders and their families, housing resources, and other resources needed for a successful reentry into the community. The goal of the Collaborative Courts is to improve client outcomes, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

The San Joaquin County Superior Court has successfully implemented six adult drug courts since 1995, which include: Parole Reentry Court, Drug Court, DUI Drug Court, Dependency Drug Court, Veterans Court, and AB109 Compliance Courts, all of which have been highly successful.

Find out more about our Collaborative Courts in San Joaquin County.

Making A Change (MAC) Group Rooms

Art Serna – Compliance Court
Donna Rooff – Dependency Court
Janet Adams – Post Release Compliance Court
Kiersten Perkins – Drug Court
Maitte Garcia – Dependency Drug Court
Reggie Galindo – Parole Re-Entry Court
Salvador Mosqueda – Drug Court
Sandra Lopez – DUI Court
Peer Support

What is a Drug Court?

San Joaquin County Superior Court’s Collaborative Courts are a comprehensive set of court programs, which use evidence-based practices to provide an alternative to traditional criminal justice case adjudication for high risk individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Drug Court serves both felony and misdemeanor offenders who are high risk based on factors identified using a validated risk assessment tool. Drug Court is a post-adjudication model in which participants are placed in drug court after entering a guilty plea. The 12-month program includes close judicial, parole and probation supervision, combined with drug treatment counseling, educational and vocational opportunities, frequent random drug/alcohol testing, and the use of appropriate incentives and sanctions.

Will Drug Court Provide More Jail Space for Violent Criminals?

With “Three Strikes” statutes and long-term incarceration for serious offenders increasing, Drug Court programs are needed more than ever to free valuable prison and jail space for violent offenders.

Who Pays for Drug Court and What Does it Cost?

San Joaquin County Superior Court Collaborative Courts operate on Federal, State and County grants. Depending on the court program, the participant may pay a minimal fee each week or pay the entire costs of their treatment and/or monitoring.

Are Drug Courts Another “Soft-on-Crime” Prevention Program?

Drug Courts across the country rely on sanctions, including terms of incarceration and increased supervision, to respond to program failure. They provide comprehensive hands-on supervision and monitoring and require far more contact with the judicial personnel than any other case management approach.

In addition, the programs require participation in drug testing, educational and rehabilitation classes (and often more time in custody) than have ever been required before.

Drug Courts are tougher on offenders; it is hard work getting and staying clean and sober.

Why Do We Need Drug Court?

The connection between substance addiction and crime is supported by numerous statistics. 60-85 percent of all crimes at the state and local level are drug-related, committed by individuals who test positive for drug use at the time of arrest.

The cycle of drug use and criminality cannot be broken under the current revolving door system, where those arrested for drugs are continually in and out of the criminal justice system, unexposed to treatment.

This system is extremely expensive for the taxpayer and does not work since recidivism is quite high on these kinds of cases.

Does Drug Court Work?

Drug courts are some of the most thoroughly researched court programs and the overwhelming evidence suggests that they are effective and cost beneficial when best practices are used. The scientific community has concluded that Drug Courts work better than jail or prison, and better than probation and treatment alone. Drug Courts significantly reduce drug use and crime and are more cost-effective than any other proven criminal justice strategy. The most rigorous and conservative scientific “meta-analyses” have all concluded that Drug Courts significantly reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.

A sample of evaluations can be found from the National Institute of Justice Drug Court, and the Government Accountability Office.

How is Drug Court Training Provided?

Drug Court Training for Judges and members of the Drug Court Team is offered throughout the year through numerous organizations, including:

  • NADCP – National Association of Drug Court Professionals
  • CACC- California Association of Collaborative Courts
  • Behavioral Health and Human Services Agency
  • Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice
  • National Judicial College
  • NDCI – National Drug Court Institute
  • BJA – Bureau of Justice Assistance
What is the Treatment Program?

A variety of treatment providers are utilized for both residential and outpatient services. The courts and their treatment providers provide drug/alcohol intervention programs designed to provide an early opportunity for treatment and a cost-effective alternative to traditional criminal case processing. The criteria for program participation has been established cooperatively by the Court, the Public Defender’s office, the District Attorney’s Office, San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Services and the Probation Department.

Adjustment to treatment is not used as form of punishment; adjustments to treatment will be based on level of need.

Who is Involved on the Drug Court Team?

The Drug Court Team consists of the following representatives:

  • Superior Court – Judge and staff
  • District Attorney
  • Public Defender
  • Probation
  • Sheriff
  • Treatment Providers
  • State and local law enforcement agencies
What Does Treatment Include?

Participants are assessed and referred to the appropriate treatment modality and ancillary services.

Treatment services may include (but not limited to):

  • Case Management
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Placement in residential treatment facilities
  • Medicated Assisted Therapy

Ancillary programs may include health services, job training, education, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention, and more as needed.

Clients are responsible for their development and participation in the treatment process. Regular status hearings are held with the Judge, and the Drug Court Team. Status hearings offer the client encouragement for continuing growth.

Client goals to successful program completion are to have broken the addiction cycle, working towards maintaining employment, furthering education, and becoming active, productive members of society.

Chemical Dependency is treated as a primary, chronic, lifelong disease. Group therapy, education, individual counseling, and a community-based approach are the basic tools offered for behavioral changes. Involvement in outside support groups such as AA/NA is stressed as the fundamental tool of lifelong recovery.

Are Violent and/or Serious Offenders Eligible for Drug Court?

Funding under the Crime Bill excludes participation by any offender that has been charged with a violent offense or who has a prior conviction for a violent crime, except domestic violence.

How Often Does Drug Court Convene?

Each Drug Court participant will be required to appear in Drug Court on a regular basis. Drug Court hearings are divided into five phases:

Phase 1 – Acute Stabilization
Phase 2 – Clinical Stabilization
Phase 3 – Pro-Social Stabilization
Phase 4 – Adaptive Habitation
Phase 5 – Continuing Care

There are frequent status hearings during the initial phase of each participant’s involvement in order to establish and reinforce the Drug Court’s policies. Participants may be required to attend court once every week. Court appearances are based on individual progress. The above durations are a guide.

Drug Court calendars are separated by gender, as evidence indicates that women respond better to treatment in a gender-responsive environment.

A report of each defendant’s progress is prepared and given to the judge before the hearings. During the status hearings, the judge makes orders after considering the team’s input from the briefing/staffing. Cases are called one at a time. The judge may choose to allow team members to provide input on any client at any point during the hearing.

Drug Court uses incentives as positive reinforcement to recognize achievements made through program participation. If a participant is not doing well, further action will be determined. Sanctions may be administered when a client is not adhering to the conditions of Probation and/or Drug Court. All decisions regarding sanctions or termination from Drug Court will be made by the Drug Court Judge in collaboration with the Drug Court team. Failure to appear in court can result in sanctions being imposed or a Bench Warrant being issued. Terminating the participant from Drug Court of course is the final sanction.

Do Drug Courts Save Money?

Drug Courts produce cost savings ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 per client. These cost savings reflect reduced prison costs, reduced revolving-door arrests and trials, and reduced victimization.

What Happens at Graduation?

Upon meeting eligibility criteria for successful completion of Drug Court, graduation is recognition of the participants’ accomplishments. Post-graduation activities include aftercare plans and mentoring projects.

This program is an excellent example of what cooperation between criminal justice agencies can achieve in establishing a swift and fair justice system that results in the most cost-effective adjudication of defendants at the least expense to the taxpayers.