Martinsville-Henry County’s Piedmont Adult Drug Treatment Court (PADTC) was one of 20 new courts selected from across the United States to receive training from the All Rise Treatment Court Institute (formerly the National Drug Court Institute).
Held at the New College Institute in September, the three-day training course shared best practice standards of drug treatment courts across the nation and examined the PADTC’s procedures to ensure high standards of treatment and care.
“This was a wonderful training for our group to continue to grow and enhance our drug court,” said Kelly Koebel, senior assistant of clinical services at Piedmont Community Services. “ It is the start of wonderful discussions on how to improve our service and expand to more individuals.”
Dr. Daryl D. Jackson, a project director at All Rise, said the training program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which is geared toward drug treatment courts that are less than two years old.
“We help new drug treatment courts learn the foundational aspect of how to successfully implement a treatment court in their communities,” Jackson said. “We go through how individuals access the program, we look at eligibility criteria, and we look at qualifying and disqualifying factors. But most importantly, we look at the before and after picture — when it’s time to graduate, have they successfully reached the after picture?”
The key components of successful drug treatment courts begin with justice and treatment integration, according to Jackson.
“How do you take the justice system and treatment to help a person get to the ultimate place of sobriety? Sometimes it takes the court system to enforce treatment and then your best practice standards to carry those components out,” Jackson said. “You make sure everyone has an equal and fair shot in treatment court and equip them with the necessary tools to be successful, regardless of race, gender, etc.”
Jackson also spoke about the need for communities to wholly support local treatment courts.
“Treatment courts have to look at ways they can engage the community to really sustain the program,” he said. “We all want the big BJA or SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant, but when all the money is gone, what truly sustains your program is the community. You have to get buy-in, and they have to truly know what this is about. Treatment courts are ultimately about changing the face of the judicial system. We are a driving force for help and support… we’re not here to only lock up folks and throw away the key.”
Jackson praised the PADTC for “doing their homework” and having a great foundation for the treatment court.
“They have a general understanding of how to successfully implement a treatment court, and much of their program material resembles what we’re already teaching,” he said. “We’re helping them understand their roles on the treatment team as every discipline is represented, which is a huge benefit. Everyone is at the same table speaking the same language. That creates a strong team.”
Although the eligibility requirements are often set by state regulations, Jackson said each participant should have an individualized treatment plan.
“We want to meet them (participants) where they are… everyone’s trauma is different,” he said. “When done right, participants become like family. They look at the administrators like family, who can model how to be a gainfully employed, tax-paying citizen who is productive and healthy. That’s what it’s all about.”
Martinsville Circuit Court Chief Judge G. Carter Greer participated in the training as the presiding judge of the PADTC. He said, “The training was highly informative, and it will give the treatment team a great deal of confidence as the number of participants in the drug treatment court grows. We will apply what we have learned in order more effectively to treat those individuals who have a substance use disorder.”
There are more than 4,000 drug treatment courts across the country that treat 150,000 individuals, saving taxpayers around $6,000 per participant, according to data from All Rise. Jackson said every new drug treatment court joins a national family that’s able to offer support and guidance from a variety of disciplines.
“Locally, we want to wrap our arms around (PADTC) so they have support, and nationally, they have so many other drug treatment court families that can help them get to where they need to go,” Jackson said. “Just at this training, they heard from an assistant district attorney from Oregon, a clinical director from Oregon, a retired drug treatment court judge from Richmond, Va., and a clinical director from Fulton County, Ga. They are getting the benefit of experience from urban and suburban courts, as well as experience from across different disciplines.”
The Piedmont Adult Drug Treatment Court is a rigorous program for individuals with pending drug or drug-related charges. The program is a minimum of 12 months, with extended stays considered based on the participant’s progress. Following successful completion, the judge can rule in three ways: dismissal of the original charge; reduction of the original charge to a lesser charge with no active jail time to serve; or a suspended sentence.
Visit piedmontcsb.org or call (276) 632-7128 to learn more.