Who is Involved in the Drug Court?
Henrico County’s Drug Court is a post-adjudication model targeted to adult probation violators who have a long history of substance abuse. Approximately 20% of the 6,000 criminal cases concluded each year in Henrico Circuit Court are new charges for probation violations. Drug Court focuses on this population with the goal of reducing crime.
In Drug Court, the offender’s prison sentence is re-suspended on the sole condition that he or she successfully completes Drug Court and its stringent behavioral requirements. Successful completion of Drug Court takes 12 to 18 months. If the participant fails to comply, the suspended prison sentence is imposed.
New participants enter Drug Court each month. The Drug Court currently has 56 active participants. It is exceeding expectations! One participant chose to spend twelve to eighteen months in Drug Court, even though the Judge offered a 90-day sentence in lieu of participation in Drug Court.
Henrico Drug Court is reducing crime. Its integrated approach has a dramatic effect on our community by preventing the typical crimes committed by addicts – check and credit card fraud, shoplifting and other larcenies in addition to drug possession.
This preliminary data provides the evidence that we are meeting our goals:
1) To expedite the court processing of nonviolent felony probation violators who are eligible for drug court.
2) Increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation of drug court participants through a combination of intensive treatment, community supervision and judicial monitoring.
3) Achieve a reduction in recidivism among participants who complete the drug court program.
Are we successful?
Yes! Because of Drug Court, participants are employed, are paying towards their court ordered financial obligations, have reunited with their families (spouses, children and parents) and report that these relationships are more satisfactory. Since July 2007, five (5) of our female participants have given birth to healthy, drug free babies.
The Henrico Drug Court is a collaborative effort of the Henrico County Circuit Court, the Henrico County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Henrico Sheriff’s Department, the Henrico Police Department, Henrico Area Mental Health, Henrico Community Corrections Program and the District #32 State Probation and Parole Office. As of July 31, 2008, a total of 405 referrals have been court ordered for evaluation to Drug Court. Of the 405 referrals, 170 were acceptable for participation with 11 referrals still pending. Of the referrals not accepted into the program, most were due to the to individuals’ criminal records for violent offenses, sexual offenses, firearms convictions or drug distributions. To date 52 participants have graduated from the Henrico Drug Court and are now members of our Alumni Group.
There are 54 active participants who are receiving daily services from the Drug Court Staff as of July 31, 2008. Demographically our participants are 67% African American, 33% Caucasian, 57% male and 43% female, and our participants range in age from 24 to 58 years old with the average age being 38 years old. Of our active participants, 58% reported heroin as their drug of choice, 35% cocaine, 5% cannabis and 2% alcohol. 96% of our participants are employed and 58% have a high school diploma or GED. Currently the are 19 participants in Phase I, 14 participants in Phase II, 11 participants in Phase III and 10 participants in Phase IV.
Sobriety, which is core to treatment and long-term successful rehabilitation, continues to be an early indicator of program success, as a majority of participants self-report exceeding their number of days clean at any other time prior their participation in Drug Court. The average number of clean days for our participants by phases are as follows: Phase I is 20 days, Phase II is 117 days, Phase III is 129 days and Phase IV is 187 days. Two of our most recent graduates had accumulated over 800 days of sobriety while participating in the program.
In May 2008 a Drug Court graduate spoke at the Henrico County Board of Supervisors meeting during a presentation by the Board proclaiming May as Drug Court Month. The participant thanked all involved for providing her the opportunity to turn her life around. Also in May 2008 another graduate and an active participant spoke at the Supreme Court of Virginia annual Judicial Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia.
On September 27, 2006, the Jenkins Foundation announced the grant award to Henrico Community Partners Inc. in collaboration with the Henrico County Drug Court to provide funding for the “Healthy Lifestyles Initiative”. This initiative is to assist the participants of the Henrico Drug Court in accessing needed health and dental care by providing financial assistance for medical co-payments, prescription cost and transportation. Furthermore as part of the initiative, monthly health screenings/informational presentations will be provided to the participants. Recent speakers included Dr. Banks from the American Cancer Society on “Cancer 101”, the Henrico Credit Union on “Financial Health and Responsibility”, Safe Harbor on “Effects of Abuse on Children”, Bon Secours Regional Memorial Hospital “Heart Health and Hypertension”. The Tuckahoe Rescue Squad were at the Drug Court Office and conducted blood pressure screenings on the participants and the Fan Free Clinic performs free, on-site HIV testing every other month. Quarterly Family Day events are held to help restore healthy relationships between our participants and their loved ones. In December 2007 we held a “Holiday Sobriety Planning” gathering at the Tuckahoe Library. In May 2008 the Drug Court participants, families and Team gathered at the Dorey Park Recreation Center and heard from the father of an active participant on how substance abuse had affected his entire family. Following his presentation we celebrated May as National Drug Court month with a Potluck dinner. Coming up in September we will be celebrating Recovery Month at the Deep Run Recreation Center with a speaker on the “Importance of Sponsorship” followed by a picnic with the participants, their Sponsors and the Team. On July 13, 2008 the “Healthy Lifestyle Initiative” was presented a National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award at the annual conference in Kansas City, MO. The NACo Achievement Award Program recognizes groundbreaking county government programs annually in a broad range of service areas, including education, administration, parks and recreation, health and human services.