The intervention programs in the Treatment Intervention Court aim to provide an alternative to detention for people in the criminal justice system who have behavioural conditions, such as substance dependence and problem gambling and/or mental health or mental impairment issues, which contribute to their offending.
The Treatment Intervention Court is a special court and is generally not open to the public, without prior approval from the presiding magistrate.
The Treatment Intervention Court sits at the Magistrates Court in Adelaide, Elizabeth, Port Adelaide, Christies Beach and Mount Gambier. It also sits on an as needs basis in the Adelaide Youth Court and the Murray Bridge Magistrates Court.
Judicial supervision is a key component in the Treatment Intervention Court, as research has shown that the Judicial Officer can positively influence participants to modify their behaviour by acknowledging and praising achievements and applying sanctions ranging from verbal disapproval to revoking bail, if program conditions are not adhered to. One magistrate is assigned to sit in each Treatment Intervention Court location so they can follow the progress of participants through the course of an intervention program.
Participation in an intervention program is facilitated and supervised by suitably qualified employees of the Courts Administration Authority (CAA). The Manager Intervention Programs, has legislative responsibility for assessment of defendants and the position is assisted by case managers who provide case management and supervision of participants.
- The defendant must be facing criminal charges that can be sentenced in the Magistrates Court.
- The defendant must plead guilty to the offences.
- The defendant must have a suitable bail address in a location that is accessible by public transport to the relevant court location.
- The defendant must be willing to engage in an intervention program and follow the program requirements.
- Assessment and Acceptance
- Treatment and Review
- Finalisation of Matters
Defendants can be referred from the general criminal list by their solicitor, police, the Magistrate, a guardian or other persons known to the individual. Alternatively, the individual may initiate the referral themselves.
Referrals may also be made by workers from agencies that provide treatment or support to the individual.
The person, (or their guardian) is required to consent to the referral. If they do so, their matters are adjourned for four – six weeks, during which time they are assessed and a report is prepared for the court and copies are sent to the prosecutor and the legal representative.
- An assessment is conducted at the Adelaide Magistrates Court or via Audio Visual Link from other locations such as the Adelaide Remand Centre or regional courts.
- The person is required to consent to the assessment and to sign an authority to exchange information with other treatment and service providers.
- The purpose of this assessment is to identify whether the individual has a behavioural problem which is related to their offending, such as substance dependence.
- The assessment identifies the person’s treatment needs and develops a treatment plan.
- A copy of the assessment report and treatment plan is provided to the individual’s legal representative, the prosecutor and the Magistrate.
- The Magistrate considers the assessment report and recommendations and decides whether to accept the person onto the program.
- The Magistrate will expect that the person pleads guilty prior to accepting them onto the program.
- Once the person is accepted they are assigned to a case manager who assists and supports them to engage in the treatment plan.
- The Courts Administration Authority funds external providers to deliver a specialised intervention program for substance using offenders, which is delivered in groups and uses cognitive behaviour therapy methods.
- Drug testing is carried out by suitably trained CAA staff in a fit for purpose facility in the Adelaide Magistrates Court.
- Defendants are also linked to free services provided by the government and not-for-profit sector, such as the Glenside Withdrawal Service operated by Drug And Alcohol Services SA, mental health treatment and support services, Statewide Gambling Treatment Services, Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Services and specialist Aboriginal services such as Aboriginal Sobriety Group and Nunkuwarrin Yunti Health Service.
- The Treatment Intervention Court has replaced the Drug Court; however, the key components of the Drug Court model are followed. This is an abstinence based model of intervention and includes compulsory regular and random supervised urine testing, rewards and sanctions to shape behaviour change and strict home detention bail conditions for defendants undertaking the 12-month program.
- Regular hearings are held and the Magistrate speaks directly with the defendant about their progress.
- The level of supervision and frequency of reviews is determined by the type of intervention program the person is undertaking.
- A high degree of supervision is required of people undertaking drug treatment programs and people return to court every two weeks for the first two months and then monthly for six to 12 months depending on the program.
- If a person is undertaking a 12-month drug treatment program they are required to be on home detention bail for the first three months.
- The progress of people undertaking an intervention program for gambling or other behavioural problems related to mental impairment issues, is usually reviewed once every two months for a total of six months.