In an effort to integrate the treatment community and the criminal justice system and serve as a catalyst in development of a treatment-based drug court, members of the planning team developed the following mission:
"To promote public safety by delivering a coordinated, accountable substance abuse treatment program designed to reduce drug use and curtail future criminal activity of nonviolent, drug abusing offenders and their families."
The Marion County Drug Treatment Court is committed to providing access to intense treatment services in order to break the cycle of drug addiction and crime in Marion County.
The ongoing relationship between drug addiction and crime is thoroughly documented in Marion County, solidifying the need to provide effective treatment for drug abusers in the criminal justice system. Prior to the creation of the Marion County Drug Treatment Court, drug offenders had few post-release options and often return to criminal behavior to support their addiction. A recent FBI Uniform Crime Report reveals that "law enforcement made more arrest for drug abuse violations in 2006 (an estimated 1.9 million arrests, or 13.1 percent of the total number of arrests) than for any other crime offense." Recidivism in drug abuse and drug-related crime jeopardizes public safety and place considerable financial burden on the community.
Marion County Drug Treatment Court was established in 1998, funded grant awards from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, and Drug-Free Marion County. Innovative treatment and intervention services provided by Drug Treatment Court are proven effective in reducing recidivism, reducing jail overcrowding and early release, and decreasing the amount of taxpayer money spent on criminal justice.
In its first seven years, the Marion County Drug Treatment Court program provided support and guidance for 789 offenders through local non-profit treatment sources. Offenders monitored by Drug Treatment Court did not occupy valuable space in the Marion County jail; they participated in rehabilitation and treatment services, underwent regular drug screening, and received resources necessary to acquire housing and employment. Tangible results support the collaborative approach between Drug Treatment Court and local non-profit agencies, resulting in cost-savings to the community, high program completion rates, and low recidivism rates. Cost savings can be calculated at $314 per participant per year, demonstrating a total savings of $247,746 in the program's first seven years. As Drug Treatment Court approaches its 10-year anniversary, capacity for services continues to expand.
In order to be eligible for services through Drug Treatment Court, offenders must have committed a non-violent drug-related felony, with the exclusion of drug dealing. The individual must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Marion County, have no history of violent offenses, no criminal history of drug delivery, and have no pending charges outside the county.
Potential participants in Marion County Drug Treatment Court are referred by a public defender or private counsel. The deputy prosecutor assigned to the Drug Treatment Court must screen and approve all referrals in accordance with eligibility criteria. Potential participants are also screened by staff members of Drug Treatment Court and non-profit treatment providers, who review substance abuse history and mental health criteria.
The success of the program is based on a comprehensive collaboration between the judge, drug treatment case managers, drug treatment court bailiff, local non-profit treatment providers, public defender and deputy prosecutor. External motivation through incentives and sanctions are utilized to assist program participants as they move toward self-sufficiency. Services provided by Marion County Drug Treatment Court help participants abstain from drug use and transition into a drug-free lifestyle, securing stable living conditions, employment, and enriched personal relationships.
The prevalent appeal of Drug Treatment Court participation is that felony charges are dismissed for successful graduates of the program; this provides participants with greater opportunity for employment and reintegration into society.