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Drug Court FAQ

Drug Court Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Drug Courts?

A Drug Court can be defined as "a special court given the responsibility to handle cases involving drug-addicted offenders through an extensive supervision and treatment program ( National Association of Drug Court Professionals , 2001). In Montgomery County, Drug Courts are collaborative partnerships sponsored by the Montgomery County Circuit Court with other law enforcement agencies, the health treatment system, and program participants to end the cycle of addiction that leads to crime.

Through a multi-phased, intensive treatment and supervision program, criteria-eligible offenders in violation of the terms of their probation are enrolled in the Drug Court, and continued on conditions of probation that reflect the highly intensive interventions of the Drug Court. Through combinations of intensive treatment, case management, regular court appearances, drug and alcohol monitoring, and community participation, participants are given an opportunity to engage in a therapeutic process to end their abuse of alcohol and other addictive substances, and to avoid new entries to the criminal justice system. Through the effective intervention of the Drug Court Team, program participants can live as contributing, productive members of their communities.

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What is the mission of the Adult Drug Court?

To eliminate substance abuse, crime, and their consequence, by forging continuing partnerships with the court, health treatment providers, concerned community organizations and law enforcement. Leveraging its partnerships and authority, the court will direct substance-abusing offenders into evaluation and treatment to achieve personal responsibility and productive citizenship.

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Why develop a Drug Court? What problems does a Drug Court address?

The problems associated with alcohol and drug dependent offenders are familiar to every criminal justice practitioner, health treatment professional, and many of our own citizens. High rates of re-arrest, fragmented approaches to treatment, a focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation for non-compliant probationers, and a lack of capacity for rapid response to conditions that might interrupt the process of recovery, contribute to a well documented “revolving door” that returns alcohol- and drug-dependent offenders to the court for subsequent offenses.

The Montgomery County Circuit Court Drug Court Program has adopted a new model with a focus on collaboration and team decision making that more strongly reflects the therapeutic and supervision needs of each program participant to address the following problems:

 

  1. Substance-abuse and drug-related recidivism by offenders who are in violation of the conditions of their probation and are at the risk of continuing their criminal activities if they are not successfully rehabilitated from their alcohol and other drug dependencies. Through the successful implementation of the Drug Court Programs, the court delivers a continuum of treatment, habilitation, and supervision services to successfully support the offender toward full and permanent recovery.
  2. A reliance on incarceration, or other negative sanctions, as a primary response to Violations of Probation. Through the adoption of its Drug Court Program, the Court adopts a model of therapeutic jurisprudence that promotes the idea that the law is a therapeutic agent; positive therapeutic outcomes are important judicial goals; and the design and operation of the courts can influence therapeutic outcomes*. Through its emphasis on treatment, the Drug Court will promote a new model for rehabilitation intended to promote community safety through effective interventions that end the cycle of addiction. Incarceration will be used as one tool, among many, to sanction participants struggling to meet the high expectations of the Drug Court Program.
  3. (* U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice. March, 2003.)

  4. Fragmented approaches to treatment and supervision. Traditionally, law enforcement, the courts and the health treatment community have operated through a “silo” approach that insulates them from shared accountability. However, this approach misses opportunities to leverage the unique strengths of each stakeholder in the system to promote offender-recovery from addiction. The Montgomery County Circuit Court Drug Court model overcomes that fragmentation by operating from a multi-agency team approach to enhance, strengthen and complement the contributions of each member of the team. Members of the team, regardless of their tasks assigned by their home agency, will share a common mission, promote the unified achievement of common goals and objectives, and maintain a shared accountability for success. Through a unified approach to treatment, supervision, and enforcement, the Drug Court is well positioned to tailor treatment to the needs of the offender, to respond swiftly to conditions that require the immediate attention of the Drug Court team, and to actively engage in the entire case/offender management process through system-wide collaboration.
  5. A lack of capacity to respond rapidly to conditions that might interrupt the process of recovery. The Drug Court is a multi-phased program that requires weekly meetings with a participant’s Case Manager, weekly attendance at Drug Court, individual therapy, random urinalysis, and attendance at AA/NA meetings. Through intensive supervision, weekly meetings of the Drug Court Team, and weekly access to the Judge, the Drug Court eliminates the problem of delay in treatment and intervention so prevalent in traditional approaches to case processing. At any point in time, a Drug Court participant is no longer than a week away from a court appearance. Through a model of intensive supervision and treatment that is continuously monitored, the Drug Court can respond quickly to situations that require the intervention of the drug court team.

 

To overcome these known barriers to success effectively requires a new model for collaboration, including service delivery partnerships and a common vision across agencies and services. As a result, the Montgomery County Circuit Court has partnered with multiple agencies to leverage their support, commitment, and resources to the successful implementation of the Drug Court Program and the operations of the Drug Court Team.

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Who may make referrals to Drug Court?

Referrals may come from a number of sources, including the Department of Parole and Probation or other agencies, the sentencing judge, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and defendant’s counsel. They may also come from other sources where there is an indication that the defendant meets the program’s eligibility criteria.

If you would like to have a defendant evaluated for possible entry in the Drug Court Program, please contact the Drug Court Coordinator (Phone: 240-777-9141.

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Is the program voluntary?

Yes. Defendants must sign an Agreement to enter the Drug Court Program. In addition, Defendants must sign the appropriate Consent (Waiver) on the Disclosure of Information. Both documents may be reviewed at the Court’s website. [link to the Drug Court document page]

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Who is eligible for Drug Court enrollment?

Offenders eligible for the Montgomery County Circuit Court Adult Drug Court Program are:

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Is there a special docket for Drug Court cases?

Yes. Drug Courts operate from their own dockets. Only drug court cases are heard on those dockets.

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Are there fees for this program?

Depending on the phase of the program, fees and fines may be part of the conditions of probation. However, while fines may be collected, no one will be denied participation due to an inability to pay fees.

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How is the program structured?

The Montgomery County Circuit Court Drug Court will be designed as a post-sentencing program for offenders charged with a violation of the conditions of their probation (VOPs). Participants must meet the eligibility requirements for entry into the Drug Court Program and must have a verifiable history of substance abuse. Procedurally, offenders are charged with a violation of the conditions of their probation and are referred to the Drug Court Program for an assessment of program eligibility.

Offenders who enter the Drug Court Program are continued on special conditions of probation that appropriately support the goals of recovery and rehabilitation for program participants. Placed under the supervision of the Drug Court Program, enrollees consent to participate in a structured, four-phase program that involves treatment, urinalysis, case management sessions, individual treatment, mandatory attendance at NA/AA meetings, and other program-related requirements for a period that ranges from 20-24 months. Once enrolled in the Program, Drug Court participants will be subject to all of the conditions of probation recommended by the Drug Court Team, and approved by the Drug Court Judge.

The Adult Drug Court operates in a team setting. The Team consists of the Drug Court Judges, Case Managers, representatives from the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Public Defender, Drug Court Coordinator, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Division of Parole and Probation Cases are reviewed weekly by the Drug Court Team in preparation for the weekly Drug Court sessions. Team members meet weekly to review the progress of each participant in the program and to make recommendations to the judge on how best to meet the needs of offenders enrolled in the program.

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What is required to graduate from the Drug Court program?

To graduate, participants must:

 

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Can Drug Court participants be terminated from the program after enrollment?

Yes. Enrollment and participation in the Montgomery County Circuit Court Adult Drug Court is an opportunity for an offender to overcome his/her dependence on drugs and/or alcohol. Through successful completion of the Drug Court Program, offenders will overcome their addiction and avoid future criminal activity. Offenders may be disqualified from program entry, continuation, or graduation if it is in the interests of the community and/or the credibility of the Drug Court Program to do so. Although it is difficult to identify every circumstance that may lead to program disqualification, examples include:

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Which agencies are partnered with the Circuit Court in this program?

Our Drug Court Program is a collaborative effort among multiple agencies. The Drug Court Teams consist of the Drug Court Judge, Drug Court Coordinator, and representatives from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Parole and Probation, Correction and Rehabilitation, Office of the State’s Attorney, Public Defender’s Office.

In addition, each Drug Court has a Steering Committee that extends its operating partnerships to the Montgomery County Department of Police, The Sheriff’s Office, University of Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools, Sixth District Court of Maryland, and the Drug Treatment Court Commission of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Specific member-agency representation on each committee can be found in the Policies and Procedures Manual (Adult Program Manual) available through the court’s website.

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How else do Drug Courts differ from traditional courts?

Drug Courts are offender-focused habilitation models that recognize the powerful influence of substance abuse as a driver of behavior. Recognizing that recovery from addiction is vital to community safety and individual accountability, the Montgomery County Circuit Court Drug Courts leverage several characteristics their foundation for participant support toward recovery:

To promote the interests of the offender, and the community in which he/she lives, the Montgomery County Circuit Court Drug Court will provide an alternative to traditional case processing and disposition that emphasizes the value of:

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What other information is available?

The Circuit Court’s website includes additional information for your review, including the Policies and Procedures Manual for the program, Participant Handbook, Consent Forms and Defendant Agreement Forms. (Drug Court Forms)

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What if I have additional questions about Drug Court programs at Montgomery County Circuit Court?

For additional information, contact:
Drug Court Coordinator
50 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 240-777-9141
Fax: 240-777-9117

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Montgomery County Circuit Court
50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM