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, Felony Drug Court, DUI Drug Court, Dependency Drug Court, and the Collaborative Courts Partnership Project, all of which have been highly successful.
Find out more about our Collaborative Courts in San Joaquin County.
- What is a Drug Court?
- Drug Court is a set of comprehensive court programs, which use evidence based practices to assist individuals involved in select felony and misdemeanor cases involving non-violent drug-using offenders in achieving total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The program includes frequent random drug testing, judicial, parole and probation supervision, drug treatment counseling, educational and vocational opportunities, and the use of appropriate incentives and sanctions.
The Judge is actively involved in supervising drug court offenders; rather than defendant’s being placed unsupervised, in a probationary or diversionary program for drug treatment.There are over 2,600 drug courts in the nation, about 216 in our state. Each is set up using the guidelines of the Federal Office of Drug Court Policy. After the successful completion of the criminal drug court program, which is a minimum of 12 months, the original sentence is permanently stayed.
- 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 drug testing and 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 drug 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?
- Preliminary data has been very favorable. An evaluation of the Miami Drug Court by the National Institute of Justice shows a 60 percent reduction in recidivism over a four-year period. An in-house evaluation of the Oakland Drug Court showed a 44 percent reduction in felony recidivism after three years. Other studies in Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois have shown similar reductions in recidivism.
The recent CALDATA study showed a significant reduction in criminal activity during and after treatment (-20%), in drug sales (-61%) and the use of a weapon or physical force (-71%).
- How is Drug Court Training Provided?
- Drug Court Training for Judges and members of the Drug Court Team, consisting of the Prosecutor, Public Defender, Law Enforcement Representative, Treatment Provider, Probation Department and clerical staff, is offered throughout the year through numerous organizations, including:
- NADCP – National Association of Drug Court Professionals
- CADCP – California Association of Drug Court Professionals
- 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 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, the Probation Department and local law enforcement officers.
Local law enforcement officers participate as Drug Court Liaison Officers and members of the Drug Court’s Law Enforcement Advisory Board. They help supervise the program participants in the community.
- 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
- Treatment Providers
- State and local law enforcement agencies
- County Board of Supervisors
- What Does Treatment Include?
- Treatment services include:
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Case Management – G.E.D., Health
- Job training and Employment assistance
- Urine Drug testing-on-site (quantitative and immediate results)
- Placement in residential treatment facilities
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. Sanctions are imposed for relapses, use incidents, failure to attend, or if the client regresses.
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. AA/NA involvement is stressed as the fundamental tool of lifelong recovery.
- Are Violent and/or Serious Offenders Eligible for Drug Court?
- The answer is “No”. Almost all Drug Courts exclude offenders charged with sales of drugs, possession for sale of drugs, or other serious offenses. 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?
- Court status hearings are held weekly. A report of each defendant’s progress is prepared and given to the judge before the hearings. The judge is notified of clean or dirty urinalysis tests, attendance at counseling and educational classes. Any special circumstances concerning the defendant are included in the judge’s progress report.
The Court may increase the frequency of urinalysis testing, order increased attendance or participation in a residential program as a requirement to stay in the program, and may order jail time as a sanction. Terminating the defendant from Drug Court of course is the final sanction. At any time, the defendant can ask to be terminated from the program and be sentenced to serve the original sentence.
- Do Drug Courts Save Money?
- Incarceration of drug-using offenders cost a minimum of $25,000 per year (and as much as $50,000). The capital costs to build a prison cell are $80-$90,000. In contrast, the most comprehensive Drug Court System costs an average of $3,000 annually for each offender.
The savings to the community from a reduction of property crime and reduced public health costs are immense. The California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Assessment (CALDATA) estimated a cost of less than $8 per day for outpatient treatment which compares with estimates of $50 to $70 per day associated with jail time.
The outpatient treatment program utilized by drug court is relatively inexpensive when compared to incarceration costs.
- What Happens at Graduation?
- A defendant who successfully completes the Drug Court Program will have his or her original jail or prison sentence permanently stayed. Graduation is recognition of the participants’ accomplishments. Post-graduation activities include an alumni association, aftercare plans and mentoring projects.
The arresting officers are invited to the graduations. 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.