- Report Published -
|Virginia Drug Treatment Courts 2015 Annual Report|
|Supreme Court of Virginia|
|§ 18.2-254.1 (N.)|
|In fiscal year 2015, there were thirty-six (36) drug treatment court dockets approved to operate in Virginia. Approved programs include: twenty-four (24) adult, eight (8) juvenile, two (2) family and two (2) regional DUI Drug Treatment Court Dockets. Two adult drug treatment court docket programs (Danville & Halifax County) have not yet formally commenced their programs, and the Prince William County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Docket closed June 30, 2015. Currently, thirty-three (33) drug treatment court dockets are operating throughout the Commonwealth. Additional applications requesting permission to establish drug treatment court dockets are being reviewed.|
Drug treatment court dockets are growing in the Commonwealth. Much of the recent growth is attributed to the 2012 budget language authorizing the Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee to consider approval of new drug treatment court dockets providing they utilize existing resources and not request state funds. The budget provision provides
“Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection O. of § 18.2-254.1, Code of Virginia, any locality is authorized to establish a drug treatment court supported by existing state resources and by federal or local resources that may be available. This authorization is subject to the requirements and conditions regarding the establishment and operation of a local drug treatment court advisory committee as provided by § 18.2-254.1 and the requirements and conditions established by the state Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee. Any drug court treatment program established after July 1, 2012, shall limit participation in the program to offenders who have been determined, through the use of a nationally recognized, validated assessment tool, to be addicted to or dependent on drugs. However, no such drug court treatment program shall limit its participation to first-time substance abuse offenders only; nor shall it exclude probation violators from participation.”(*1)
Since 2012, eleven (11) new drug treatment court dockets have been approved to operate. In 2014, the Pulaski County, and in 2015, the Halifax County Adult Drug Treatment Court dockets were approved by the Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee. As part of their application, state funds were not requested and existing resources were utilized.
The goals of Virginia drug treatment court docket programs are to:
1. Reduce drug addiction and drug dependency among offenders;
2. Reduce recidivism;
3. Reduce drug-related court workloads;
4. Increase personal, familial and societal accountability among offenders; and
5. Promote effective planning and use of resources among the criminal justice system and community agencies.
This report reviews the basic operations and outcomes of Virginia’s drug treatment court dockets for fiscal year 2015. Information provided include details of program participants including demographics, program entry offenses, program length, graduation or termination and re-arrest post program completion. The report is based on 1) data from the drug court database developed and maintained by the OES; and 2) arrest data obtained from the Virginia State Police. Details are provided separately for adult and DUI drug treatment court dockets.
The juvenile drug treatment court docket model served less than 150 participants over eight programs during fiscal year 2015. As a result, basic data will be included for this model. Only two family drug treatment court dockets accepted participants during fiscal year 2015. As a result, there is insufficient data to report on this model. The Commission on Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) requires the local Alcohol Safety Action Programs (ASAPs) to enter data in the Inferno database. The driving under the influence (DUI) drug treatment court dockets are operated through the local ASAP. Data for the DUI drug treatment court dockets are electronically migrated into the drug court database. Analyses provided in this report were based on data entered for participants in Virginia’s drug treatment court dockets who entered into a program after July 1, 2014 and completed (successfully or unsuccessfully) a drug treatment court docket program on or before June 30, 2015. Statistical information was provided for participants who remain active. Information provided in this report reviews several new best practices in the drug treatment court docket programs over the past two years, such as the implementation of the Risk and Needs Triage (RANT) tool (a nationally recognized validated assessment tool) and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) training and implementation.
RANT is a simple but compelling tool for sentencing and dispositions. It is a highly secure webbased decision support tool designed with criminal justice professionals in mind. It was derived from empirical evidence showing improved outcomes in community correctional settings. The tool demonstrates how drug-involved offenders can be matched to the level of supervision and treatment best suited to both their criminogenic risks and clinical needs. RANT is easily administered by non-specialists in 15 minutes or less and offers instant, individual participant-level reporting. Federal grant funds allowed the OES to purchase the intellectual property to add RANT to the drug court database for adult and DUI drug treatment court staff to use for each referral in order to target the high risk and high need candidates for acceptance.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the drug treatment court docket model is a best practice because:
• The problem of drugs and crime is much too broad for any single agency to tackle alone
• Drug treatment court dockets rely upon the daily communication and cooperation of judges, court personnel, probation, treatment providers, and providers of other social services
• Drug treatment court docket participants are provided intensive treatment and other services for a minimum of one year
• There are frequent court appearances and random drug testing with sanctions and incentives to encourage compliance and completion. Successful completion of the treatment program results in dismissal of the charges, reduced or set‐aside sentences, lesser penalties, or a combination of the aforementioned
• Most important, graduating participants gain the necessary tools to rebuild their lives
Administration of Drug Treatment Court Dockets in Virginia
The Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) of the Supreme Court of Virginia facilitates the development, implementation and monitoring of local adult, juvenile, family and driving under the influence (DUI) drug treatment court dockets through the Drug Treatment Court Division of the Department of Judicial Services. The State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee established pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-254.1 offers recommendations to the Chief Justice regarding recognition and funding for drug treatment court docket programs, best practices and minimum standards for program operations. The Committee also evaluates all proposals requesting to establish new drug treatment court docket programs and offers recommendations to the Chief Justice.
Drug treatment court dockets have been operating in the Commonwealth for more than 20 years and their efficacy and effectiveness is well documented. In times of serious budget cuts, the drug treatment court docket model offers state and local governments a cost‐effective way to increase the percentage of sustained recovery of addicted offenders thereby improving public safety and reducing costs associated with re‐arrest and additional incarceration. Every adult participant accepted into a Virginia drug treatment court docket program saves $19,234 compared to traditional case processing.(*2)
Funding for Drug Treatment Court Dockets
Virginia’s drug treatment court dockets operate under a funding strategy developed in 2009 by a work group as part of an ongoing strategic goal of Virginia’s drug treatment court docket community. The goal was to formulate a plan to address the long-term funding of drug treatment court dockets in Virginia over a ten year period in a way that would support currently funded, unfunded and future drug treatment court dockets. The end result was to develop a funding formula that is both reliable in its consistency from year to year and sufficient in scale to at least maintain the operations of the Commonwealth’s current programs. The funding formula is based on two elements: 1) the number of participants served by the program; and 2) accountability measures. The funds are distributed in the form of grants. Recognizing a secure dedicated funding stream may not be near, and to maintain operations and provide consistency, the funding strategy established was implemented gradually over the past few years. Programs must meet minimum compliance elements to receive funds. The minimum compliance elements include:
• Approval to operate in Virginia
• Established minimum number of participants enrolled
• Compliance with Virginia Drug Court Standards as determined by the Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee
• Compliance with data entry into the drug court database
• Compliance with grant reporting requirements if currently receiving funds
• Accountability measures include program retention and recidivism rates. (Benchmark target rates for program retention and recidivism rates will be determined by OES every four years, based on the averages of all like-model dockets over the past two years of program operation with ±5%)
Currently, state funds are administered to eleven (11) adult and three (3) juvenile drug treatment court docket programs in the form of grants. Programs receiving these funds utilize primarily for drug treatment court personnel. Treatment services for drug treatment court docket participants are generally provided through local public substance abuse treatment systems also known as the Community Services Boards (CSB) or the Behavioral Health Authorities. The drug treatment court programs establish Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with their local CSB for needed treatment services with agreed upon financial and/or clinical personnel arrangements. The remaining docket programs operate without state funds. Seventeen (17) draw upon local funds and in-kind services, augmented in a few situations by federal grant funds and other resources. Two adult drug treatment court docket programs are not currently accepting participants. The two remaining programs, which are DUI drug treatment court docket programs, operated by the local Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) use offender fees to support their program.
In October 2012, the OES received a 30-month Statewide Adult Drug Treatment Court Discretionary grant award from the Bureau of Justice Assistance for $1.5 million. The purpose of the Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program (42 U.S.C. 3797u et seq.) is to provide financial and technical assistance to states, state courts, local courts, units of local government and Indian tribal governments to develop and implement drug treatment courts that effectively integrate substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives and transitional services in a judicially supervised court setting with jurisdiction over nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders. The grant received was originally set to expire September 30, 2015. A no-cost extension was granted extending the grant to September 30, 2016.
Virginia utilizes these funds to not only improve operations of drug treatment court dockets by adding best practices, such as adding probation officers or case managers for participants’ supervision, but also to implement the Risk And Needs Triage (RANT) tool to target the high risk and high needs participants. The cognitive behavioral curriculum-based treatment approach, Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) was also implemented to improve outcomes and provided staff training on how to use these tools as enhancements to the drug court database. The grant award also provides an emerging trend study of drug court effectiveness with the prescription drug use population. (Note: A progress report of this study is included in Appendix E.)
1.) Active Participants: In 2015, there were 2,405 active participants in the adult, juvenile and DUI drug treatment court dockets, which was a slight increase from 2014.
2.) Graduates: The number of individuals who successfully completed adult, juvenile or DUI drug treatment court docket programs in 2015 totaled 584 for an overall graduation rate of 58%. This is greater than a 25% increase over the 2014 overall graduation rate. The graduation rate for the DUI drug treatment court dockets was 74%.
3.) Terminations: There were 428 persons terminated from an adult, juvenile or DUI drug treatment court dockets during 2015 fiscal year, resulting in an overall termination rate of 42.21%. A 25.8% participant revocation rate was reported in DUI drug treatment court dockets. Overall terminations have decreased compared to 2014 rates. Note: Terminations and revoked cases constitute unsuccessful program completion.
4.)Referrals: There were 1,564 referrals to adult, juvenile and DUI drug treatment court dockets in 2015. This was a 6% increase from 2014. Adult drug treatment court docket referrals increased by nearly 21%, while DUI and juvenile drug court dockets received fewer referrals.
5.) New Admissions: New admissions totaled 1022 to adult, juvenile and DUI drug treatment court dockets in fiscal year 2015 and 999 in 2014. There was a slight increase in overall new admissions with adult participants increasing by almost11%, DUI decreasing by 2%, while juvenile participants decreased by over 24% in fiscal year 2015. (Note: Juvenile court cases are lower statewide, as well as nationally, and this trend will continue to be monitored.)
Re-arrests: In 2015, the re-arrest rate was 6.9% for adult and 12 % for DUI drug treatment court dockets. This represents a decrease from 2014 figures. Note: Caution is recommended when comparing re-arrest rates with recidivism. Not all arrests result in conviction and not all arrests and convictions result in re-incarceration. Re-arrest was calculated by the first offense post program departure for all participants. The misdemeanor arrests were separated from the felony arrests in subsequent chapters because most misdemeanor arrests do not result in jail time.
In 2015, the overall re-arrest rate for those departing adult & DUI drug treatment court dockets was 9.52% with 9.55% for graduates compared to 17.46% for those terminated. Nineteen percent (19%) of the graduates re-arrested were charged with misdemeanor offenses while only 5.1% were arrested for felony offenses. Nearly 35% of the terminated participants were arrested for misdemeanor offenses while 21.5% were re-arrested for felony offenses. In 2015 nearly 75% fewer graduates were re-arrested compared to 30% fewer terminated participants rearrested. Of the nearly 25% re-arrested in 2015, 15.7% were charged with misdemeanor offenses, while 9.2% were charged with felony offenses. Overall, combining those who departed drug court in 2015, nearly 44% fewer adult participants were re-arrested compared to 2014.
The 2015 re-arrest rates for DUI docket graduates was 9% compared to 21% for those revoked. Among the graduates, nearly 6% were arrested for misdemeanor offenses, while 3% were arrested for felony offenses. Over 14% of the revoked participants were arrested for misdemeanor offenses, while 7% were arrested for felony offenses. The re-arrest rate for all DUI docket departures in 2015 was nearly 12%, which is 52% lower than 2014. Among all departures, 8% were arrested for misdemeanor offenses, while 4% were arrested for felony offenses. Overall the re-arrest rate is higher for terminated participants than graduates.
(*1) Chapter 3 - 2014 Special Session Virginia Acts of Assembly - Item 37.H.1. (page 23)