Drug Court – The next drug court graduation in the South Bay will be held
on September 6. The next drug court graduation in San Diego is
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Drug Court locations and hours.
There has been an effort to standardize the Adult Drug Courts in San Diego County so that participants may transfer from one court to another should the need arise. The efforts to obtain federal, state and local funding are now "regional in approach".
Location Started Drug Court Session County Courthouse
220 West Broadway, Dept. 22, 2nd Floor 3/97 Tuesday 1:30 - 4:00 North County
325 S. Melrose Drive - Dept 16, 1st Floor 1/97 Thursday 2:15 - 5:00 East County Division
250 East Main St., Dept. 4, 1st floor 8/97 Thursday 2:00 - 4:00 South County Division
500 Third Avenue, Dept. 5, 2nd Floor 10/97 Friday 9:00 - 11:00 Juvenile Drug Court
(both Delinquency and Dependency 1998 Closed to the public
2. What is a Drug Court?
A Drug Court is a special court that hears selected felony and misdemeanor cases involving non-violent, drug-using offenders. The San Diego Adult Programs, due to recent funding limitations, are limiting the enrollment to felons only at this time. The program includes frequent random drug testing, judicial supervision, drug treatment counseling, educational and vocational training opportunities, and the use of court-imposed sanctions and incentives. The Judge is actively involved in supervising drug court participants, rather than placing defendants in unsupervised probation or diversion programs. Upon successful completion of the criminal drug court program, which is a minimum of 18 months, probation may be terminated, or in rare instances, based on the recommendation of the prosecutor, the drug charge may be dismissed.
How many Drug Courts are there?
3. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, as of October 2004, there were over 1,600 Drug Courts throughout the Country in operation or in the planning stages (includes Adult, Juvenile and Family Drug Courts).
Each of the programs in San Diego County were designed using the guidelines of the Federal Office of Drug Court Policy.
San Diego County Drug Courts include:
o North County Division Adult Drug Court - implemented January, 1997;
o Central Division Adult Drug Court - implemented March, 1997;
o East County Division Adult Drug Court - implemented August, 1997;
o Juvenile Drug Court (both Delinquency and Dependency) - implemented in 1998.
4. What is the Adult Drug Court's mission?
The mission of the Adult Drug Court Program is twofold: to improve lives that have been impacted by drug addiction, and to increase public safety by reducing the amount and frequency of drug related crimes. These goals are accomplished by assisting the participants in leading clean, sober, independent and productive lives. The tools used to provide this assistance are mandated treatment, rigorous court supervision, sanctions and the dedication of caring and knowledgeable collaborative team members.
5. How is the Adult Drug Court funded?
San Diego Superior Court Adult Drug Courts operate with Federal and State grant money. In addition, local law enforcement agencies have contributed drug asset forfeiture money and Local Law Enforcement Block Grant funds. The efforts to obtain federal, state and local funding are now “regional in approach.” The County, in collaboration with the San Diego Superior Court, has applied for and received funding for Drug Courts including federal funding for a countywide drug court evaluation and state funding through the California Drug Court Partnership Act and Comprehensive Drug Court Implementation Act.
Participants in the Adult Drug Court programs must pay a minimal $20 fee each week to the provider to aid in the therapeutic aspect as well as to help off-set costs.
6. Who is involved in the Adult Drug Court?
The Drug Court Team consists of the following representatives:
o Superior Court - Judge and support staff;
o District Attorney;
o Public Defender;
o State and local law enforcement agencies;
o Case Management and Treatment Providers. 7. How do Drug Court Teams receive training?
Drug Court training for Judges and members of the Drug Court Team, is offered throughout the year through numerous organizations, including:
o NADCP - National Association of Drug Court Professionals
o CADCP - California Association of Drug Court Professionals
o County Health and Human Services Agency
o Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice
o National Judicial College
o UCSD - Clinical Institute in Addiction Studies
Many of the grants that are available through the federal government require that the applicant allocate a portion of their budget to training. This helps to ensure that the grantee is well informed on all of the current issues involving Drug Court, willing to attend technical assistance conferences and is able to include the entire Drug Court Team in the training process.
8. Why do we need Drug Court?
The connection between drug addiction and crime has been well documented. The cycle of drug use and criminality cannot be broken under the traditional criminal justice
system, where those arrested for drugs remain either unexposed to treatment or receive little supervision or monitoring for compliance while in treatment. This system is
extremely expensive for taxpayers and has been shown to have a questionable impact on recidivism rates.
9. Are Violent and/or Serious Offenders Eligible for Drug Court?
San Diego Superior Court Adult Drug Courts exclude offenders charged with violent offenses, sex crimes, manufacturing illegal substances and 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. 10. Are Drug Courts cost effective?
While studies are on-going, the California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Assessment (CALDATA) estimated a cost of less than $8 per day for outpatient treatment which compares to estimates of $86 per day associated with jail time. The outpatient treatment programs utilized by Drug Court are relatively inexpensive when compared to
incarceration costs. In addition, the savings to the community from a reduction of property crime and reduced public health costs can be immense.
Results of a study conducted by the Administrative Office of the Courts and NPC Research concluded that for many agencies in San Diego, their investment in drug court is actually less than their investment in non-drug court processes.
The most recent results are from a report of the California's Comprehensive Drug Court Implementation Act (CDCI), which showed that Adult Drug Court participants who completed the CDCI Program averted a total of over $34 million in prison days costs and the ratio of prison costs averted by participants, to the amount invested was 1.53 to 1. 11. 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 system than any other case management approach. In addition, the
programs require participation in drug testing, educational and rehabilitation classes. Drug Courts are tougher on offenders than traditional proceedings; it is hard work getting and staying clean and sober.
In contrast to the limitations imposed by California's Proposition 36, Drug Court Judges have the discretion to order short terms of incarceration upon participants that are out of compliance with the program. Successful Drug Court Participants are quick to admit that these "wake up calls" in the jail have proven to be very effective in their overall recovery. 12. Are Drug Courts Effective in Reducing Recidivism?
A recent federally funded national study conducted by the Urban Institute concluded that 16% of drug court participants were rearrested and charged with a serious offense within 1 year of graduation. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office researched San Diego County Adult Drug Court recidivism and found that: 14% have a new
conviction within 1 year of completion; 25% have a new conviction within 2 years of completion and 29% have a new conviction within 3 years of completion.
13. How often does Drug Court convene?
Court status hearings with the Drug Court Team are held weekly. Participants appear before the judge weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on which phase of the program they are in. A report of each participant's progress is prepared and given to the judge prior to the hearing. The judge is notified of positive and negative urinalysis tests, and attendance at counseling and educational classes. Any special circumstances concerning the participant are included in the progress report. The Court may increase the frequency of drug 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 and sentencing them, is the final sanction. 14. What is the Treatment Program?
All four Divisions of the Adult Drug Court Programs utilize a single case manager/ treatment provider, who is under contract to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The Drug Court Teams and treatment providers have together designed drug intervention programs intended 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, County HHSA/Alcohol & Drug Services and local law enforcement agencies. Local law enforcement officers participate as Drug Court Liaison Officers to help supervise the program participants in the
15. What does Treatment entail? Treatment services may include:
o Group therapy;
o Individual therapy;
o Case Management;
o Urinalysis drug testing (quantitative and immediate results); and
o Placement in detox, residential treatment, sober living and mental health programs as deemed appropriate by the Drug Court Teams and availability of resources.
Ancillary services may include:
o Job training and Employment assistance;
o Education, such as G.E.D.; and
o Health referrals.
Clients are responsible for their development and participation in the treatment process. Regular status hearings are held with the Judge and Drug Court Team. Status hearings
offer the client encouragement for continuing growth. Sanctions are imposed for relapses, use incidents, failures to attend treatment or testing and other non-compliant events.
Clients successfully completing the program will have broken the addiction cycle, found and maintained employment, and become 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 and participation in 12-step self-help meetings such as Alcoholics and/or Narcotics Anonymous, is stressed as a fundamental tool of lifelong recovery.
16. What happens at graduation?
Upon completion of the minimum 18-month intensive program, the participant and their families and friends are invited to participate in a graduation ceremony. The graduation ceremony is a recognition of the participant's accomplishments. Each participant's arresting officer is also invited to the graduation. Depending on the legal status of the court case, probation may be terminated or, in rare instances, based on the
recommendation of the prosecutor, the criminal case may be dismissed upon
completion of this last phase; thereby avoiding jail and/or prison terms. Post program activities include an alumni association, aftercare plans and mentoring projects. 17. Graduation Announcements
Date: Monday, March 6, 2006 Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: San Diego County Bar Association Building, 1333 7th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 Contact for Information: Christina Gomez, (619) 758-1433
NORTH COUNTY DIVISION 26th Graduation Ceremony
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: AVO Playhouse, 303 Main Street, Vista, CA 92083 Keynote Speaker: Supervisor Bill Horn
Contact for Information: Linda O'Rourke, (760) 940-1836 • More Information
If you would like additional information about the San Diego Superior Court Drug Court Programs, visit the Superior Court's web-site or contact the San Diego Superior Court Collaborative Courts Coordinator at (619) 515-8341.