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Model for Integration of Proposition 36 Cases Into Court Supervised Treatment Programs

Proposition 36 Implementation Workgroup

Administrative Office of the Courts
Trial Courts Program Division

February 28, 2001

General Objectives

Prop 36 represents perhaps the most ambitious court supervised treatment program ever attempted.  The importance of integrating the new cases into the existing treatment programs in a smooth and nondisruptive fashion cannot be overstated, both for the good of the clients already benefiting from court supervised treatment as well as the new ones that will be brought in under Prop 36.  Models for integration of these cases should be built around 5 general objectives:

1.         To provide for a “seamless transition” to a system including Prop 36 cases.

Prop 36 should not be viewed as a separate treatment program from traditional court supervised treatment programs such as PC 1000 and Drug Court, with separate procedures and objectives. We should look at all non-violent substance abusers as one group for the purpose of determining the appropriate level of treatment and supervision, regardless of the point of entry or the basis of eligibility.

2.         To provide for a Team of Judges and support staff with training and or experience (or who receive training) in supervising substance abusing defendants while they are in treatment.

Recognizing that Prop 36 will add thousands of defendants to the existing treatment system, the response of the Courts should be to design a system within each Superior Court that will calendar cases in specialized departments and/or calendars that will make use of well-established treatment court principles to supervise all defendants who are mandated into treatment, including court reviews of progress in treatment.

3.         To provide for an appropriate level of treatment and supervision through individual assessments. 

The first and most important principle of effective drug treatment recognized by the National Institute of Drug Abuse is that no single treatment is appropriate for all individuals.  There is no “one size fits all” treatment program.  Each participant should be assessed individually both for the level of addiction and the level of intensity of supervision, and then be assigned to treatment commensurate with the severity of his or her addiction and probation supervision commensurate with his or her criminal history. We should recognize that an assessment for each defendant is critical in this process for supervision and treatment, and that assessments will change over time as the defendant progresses or fails in treatment and carrying out obligations.

4.         To provide for an integrated court, probation, and treatment system that permits defendants to move to different treatment and supervision levels as they progress or fail in treatment. 

A core element of current court supervised treatment programs is recognizing that defendants will move between different levels of treatment and supervision and that modifications in treatment and supervision plans will be necessary. The fact that the defendant has “failed” at one level of treatment does not mean that he or she will not succeed at a higher level of intensity in treatment.

5.         To provide for meaningful cooperation and collaboration between treatment providers and the Court and Probation Department. 

Court supervision of drug treatment has proved to be one of the most significant advances in drug treatment in the past decade, and its effectiveness has been recognized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  However, successful Court supervision requires collaboration.  Current court supervised treatment involves frequent face-to-face meetings between the judge, probation officers, and treatment professionals, and sharing of information by the treatment professionals with the probation officers and the judge for therapeutic (not punitive) purposes.  The Judge, Probation and Treatment Provider all should be involved in case management. To be successful, Prop 36 cases should be incorporated into this system of  “collaborative treatment”, and courts should establish guidelines for choosing providers who are willing to share authority over the case in this manner. 

The County Plan

Regulations promulgated by the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs require that a county must take certain steps to qualify for Prop 36 money, including designation of a “lead agency”.  The lead agency should jointly develop a county plan for the implementation of Prop 36 in collaboration with the county drug and alcohol program office, the probation department, the courts, and other stakeholders.  (See CCR Section 9520(a)).  This plan is required to be submitted to ADP as part of the request for funds.  (CCR Section 9515(f)).  To be effective, the County Plan should

 ·        Describe the process to determine eligibility for prop 36 treatment upon conviction, and, as to defendants on probation, at violation of probation hearing

·        Describe the assessment process for Prop 36 defendants to determine appropriate levels of treatment and supervision;

·        Describe the levels of treatment and supervision to be utilized for Prop 36 cases within the treatment continuum of care;

·        Identify the treatment providers that will be used;

·        State the standards for group size and caseloads for treatment and supervision by the treatment providers and probation department, based on identified levels of treatment and supervision;

·        State policies and procedures for assuring that appropriate drug treatment is available to parolees who are required to participate;

·        State the standards for frequency of drug use testing, by level of treatment and supervision;

·        State the procedures will be used to capture data for ongoing evaluation of Prop 36 cases;

·        State the protocols that will be instituted to insure close cooperation between treatment and probation personnel and facilitate sharing of necessary treatment information with Probation and the Courts to further the Prop 36 objective of court-supervised treatment.

·        Describe the multi-agency task force that will oversee the continuing implementation of Prop 36 and provide a discussion forum for any continuing problems.

Adhering to the standards set up in the County Plan for maximum caseloads, treatment modalities, and frequency of drug testing may very well require additional funding from sources other sources than Prop 36.  This should not deter the Court from insisting on such standards nor the County from attempting to comply with such standards. 

Appendix A:  Ten Key Components of Treatment Courts*

1.         Integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.

A team approach must be taken to stop drug abuse and related criminal activity.  Courts can motivate offenders to enter treatment, but must work with treatment providers to ensure participants’ success.  For instance, treatment providers report offenders’ treatment progress to courts in order to ensure collaborative use of sanctions and rewards.

2.         Use a non-adversarial approach in which prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights. 

Prosecution and defense attorneys must work together as a team and focus on offenders’ recovery rather than the merits of the case.  Prosecutors are responsible for identifying drug court candidates, and defense attorneys are obliged to protect offenders’ rights and inform them about the drug court process.

3.         Identify eligible participants early for  
            immediate referral to the program. 

Substance abuse problems may be easier to identify after offenders are arrested.  When experiencing the crisis of arrest, offenders may be more open to pursuing treatment because the consequences of drug use are so obvious at that time.

4.         Provide access to a continuum of
            treatment and rehabilitation services. 

Only part of offenders’ treatment takes place in the court room or in formal treatment settings.  Creating a therapeutic team ensures that secondary issues, such as health care, housing and unemployment are addressed. If these problems are ignored, successful substance abuse treatment will be compromised.  Offenders need access to a full range of services, as one size does not fit all.

5.         Monitor abstinence by frequent drug testing. 

Drug testing is the most reliable, objective way to detect recent drug use.  A drug testing system ensures individual accountability and helps gauge participants’ progress and compliance.

6.         Coordinate court and treatment program responses to participants’ compliance or lack of compliance, including contingency contracts that involve participants in their own sanctions and incentives. 

Rewards and sanctions should promote ending drug use.  Graduated sanctions are used in response to non-compliance with treatment.  Rewards are given for negative drug tests and attending all drug court meetings and treatment sessions.

7.         Require ongoing judicial interaction with drug court participants. 

Judges lead the drug court team and link participants with treatment providers.  Judicial supervision shows participants that someone in authority cares and increases the chances that participants will remain in the program.

8.         Monitor and evaluate achievement of program goals and program effectiveness.

The goals and objectives of drug court programs should be measurable.  Objection outcome data provide accountability to funding agencies and policy makers; positive outcomes increase the likelihood of continued funding and community support for programs.

9.         Promote effective drug court planning through interdisciplinary education of planning teams. 

Key drug court personnel, as well as those indirectly involved in the program, should continue to receive training and education.  Continued education ensures that the drug court’s goals and policies are understood and provides opportunities for ongoing interaction between personnel from different agencies.

10.       Forge partnerships among drug courts, public agencies and community based organizations. 

Drug courts create partnerships among organizations dedicated to rehabilitating substance abusing offenders.  Multiple partnerships increase services available to participants during and after the program.

* “The Ten Key Components of Drug Courts” developed by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

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