Drug Treatment Court: Treating Addiction Through the Justice System

Many times, people in need of treatment for substance use disorders wind up in court for drug-related offenses.  Berks County Drug Treatment Court can help those individuals get treatment and lessen their criminal record.

Drug Treatment Court is a diversionary program that is supported by the Council on Chemical Abuse. It is a form of sentence that requires the defendant to comply with a series of mandated activities, including intensive supervision and treatment services, in order to avoid conviction.  The goal of the program is to provide participants with structure and direction to help them enter a new pattern of life.

As part of the requirements, participants must appear in court every other week, meet with a probation officer weekly, and participate in recovery-related activities. The program usually involves treatment, counseling, community service, frequent drug tests, and finding or keeping a job or continuing schooling.

Length of participation ranges from 12 – 18 months, although it can be longer depending upon an individual’s motivation to follow direction and maintain compliance with program expectations. Individuals who successfully fulfill the requirements of Drug Treatment Court can benefit greatly and can possibly have their criminal record expunged.

Berks County has four treatment courts. In addition to Drug Treatment Court, there are also programs that address mental health, veterans and DUI offenders. Over the past three years, these programs have saved about $5 million in prison costs, by keeping the defendants out of prison, according to a May 2019 article in the Reading Eagle. Even more importantly, they set people on a path for recovery, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives.

Nigel Walker, pictured above, went through Drug Treatment Court several years ago. The intense supervision and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment services she received afforded her the opportunity to  take the first steps towards recovery.

“I’m not ashamed anymore,” she said of her recovery story.

To learn more about Berks County Drug Treatment Court, watch our May 8 BCTV episode

You can also listen in to WEEU on May 20 to hear the stories of drug treatment court graduates.

May 2019 Berks Treatment Court Graduation, celebrating 25 grads

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