The Drug Court is a 12 month program with clearly defined rules that assist drug-abusing offenders to accept responsibility for their own rehabilitation.
Although participants volunteer to participate once they agree they must agree to comply with the program requirements. Research indicates that a person who is required to enter treatment by the criminal justice system is likely to do as well as one who volunteers for treatment.
The program combines intensive judicial supervision, strict bail conditions, rewards and sanctions, drug testing, intensive treatment and practical support. Low cost, furnished rental accommodation is provided for participants and an initial home start pack of household staples is provided. Additional support is provided for Aboriginal participants. Offenders accepted into the program have a case management plan individually designed to meet their requirements although there are key treatment components that apply to everyone.
What the program can include
Withdrawal management – including in-patient detoxification if necessary
Pharmacological treatment if necessary – for example methadone
Relapse prevention – for example counselling, group therapy
Group therapy and individual counselling to develop pro-social thoughts and behaviours
Prevention of further offending behaviour through restricted bail
Referral and assistance to manage physical and mental health issues
Referral to access education or vocational training
Provision of accommodation from up to 15 months and referral to access long term housing
Assistance to restore family relationships
Referral to obtain income support and manage financial issues
Support to find or maintain employment
Practical assistance on leaving detention with basic personal items and food items until income support is arranged
Brokerage funds to purchase services where necessary.
Rewards and Sanctions are used in most Drug Courts to reinforce compliance with treatment regime.
Rewards are used to reinforce positive behavior and consist of non-monetary “social reinforcers” such as recognition for progress or sincere effort and program staff provide small tangible rewards such as bus tickets and food vouchers to reinforce sustained compliance with the treatment regime.
The Magistrate applies graduated sanctions for noncompliant behaviour. A point system operates and points are awarded for minor non-compliance. Increasingly severe sanctions may be issued for more serious or continued problem behavior. These sanctions may include bail revocation and a period of incarceration.
The program is divided into 3 phases
Phase 1 –Three months
Intensive judicial supervision is undertaken via fortnightly court
Home detention bail is mandatory
Treatment consists of individual counselling and group programs especially designed to address the nexus between offending and drug use. (MRT and Staying Quit)
Drug testing three times a week
Phase 2 – Six months
Monthly court appearances
Bail conditions reduced to night curfew
Drug testing reduces to twice a week
Phase 3 – Three months