The Dorchester County Adult Drug Court Program provides a cost-effective, court-supervised program that enhances public safety and reduces recidivism. The Drug Court Program equips participants with the tools and support necessary to remain in the community as productive citizens with a lifestyle of sobriety and stability.
What Is Drug Court?
The Dorchester County Adult Drug Court is a court-supervised, multi-agency, community-based program for non-violent defendants with an alcohol and/or drug addiction. The program supervises a maximum of twenty (20) defendants charged with alcohol and/or drug related offenses. The Drug Court coordinates the efforts of the judges, prosecutor, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the treatment providers to break the cycle of addiction and crime. Drug Court cuts costs by reducing recidivism and using coercive power of the court to force abstinence and behavior changes of the alcohol/drug-addicted defendant. The Drug Court Program requires mandatory drug testing, intensive treatment, strong aftercare, and sanctions for non-compliance with court orders. The Dorchester County Adult Drug Court Program offers a cost-effective way to ensure that substance-abusing defendants are punished, lead a clean and sober lifestyle, and pay society back by becoming productive tax-paying citizens.
Who Is Eligible For The Drug Court Program?
To be eligible for the Drug Court Program, the defendant must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and be assessed as alcohol and/or drug dependent. The defendant cannot be charged with or have prior violent offense convictions. Defendants are also ineligible if they are currently under probation, supervised release, parole, mandatory release, or any other type of supervision. Defendants with co-occurring psychoses, who are not stabilized on medication, are not accepted unless the offender agrees to immediately enter mental health services and become stabilized. Those who are stabilized on medication are considered on a case-by-case basis.
How Does A Defendant Enroll In Drug Court?
A Solicitor refers the defendant to the Drug Court Program. Once referred, the defendant is mailed an application packet and is scheduled for an application appointment.
During this application appointment, the Program Director meets with the defendant in an individual setting. If the defendant has an attorney, the attorney is required to agree and sign portions of the application. During the appointment, the application is reviewed with the defendant by the Program Director. The Program Director will provide the defendant with a date for his/her assessment at Dorchester Alcohol and Drug Commission.
The treatment provider then screens each defendant using the Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment to ensure the defendant has met the qualifications required to enter the Drug Court Program. Specifically, the defendant must be diagnosed addicted and/or chemically dependent on a substance. If the defendant is deemed not appropriate for treatment, the case will be returned to the Solicitor for prosecution.
Once the defendant is determined to be appropriate for Drug Court, the Program Director processes the file. The case is then signed off by the Solicitor and the defendant is scheduled to begin Drug Court.
When an defendant is accepted into Drug Court, the defendant enters a guilty plea and the sentence is deferred. The defendant is then notified of his/her program commencement date.
What Does Drug Court Entail?
Drug Court treatment consists of four (4) phases. All four of these phases include outpatient therapy and hair follicle testing. During all phases, the defendant is required to report to court on a bi-weekly basis.
Phase 0 (1 to 6 Weeks)
This is a transitional phase which helps defendants adjust to the Phase I requirements.
Phase I (Minimum of Three Months)
Defendants are required to submit to random drug screenings. Weekly treatment consists of (at least) nine (9) hours of intensive group therapy. The defendant must also attend several twelve-step meetings per week.
Phase II (Minimum of Three Months)
Defendants are required to continue to submit to random drug screenings. Treatment is less frequent, with fewer required group therapy sessions. The defendant continues to attend several twelve-step meetings per week.
Phase III (Minimum of Three Months)
There is a concentration on relapse prevention and aftercare with continued random drug screening and therapy.
Phase IV (Minimum of Three Months)
There is a concentration on relapse prevention and aftercare with continued random drug screening and therapy. Treatment is more tailored to the individual needs of the offender. During all phases, the offender reports to court on a monthly basis.
How Much Does Drug Court Cost?
Every defendant is required to pay a non-refundable $100 application fee.Once the defendant is accepted and begins treatment, he/she must pay $150 per month to the Dorchester County Solicitor’s Office.The defendant may be responsible for additional fees during the course of the program.
What Happens When A Person Graduates From Drug Court?
If a defendant successfully completes Drug Court, the charges against him/her will be dismissed and the plea is withdrawn. In addition, the defendant is entitled to obtain an Order from the court destroying all records pertaining to his/her arrest and the associated charge(s).
Adult Drug Court Office