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Delaware Docket Newsletter

DEMONSTRATED SUCCESS IN DRUG DIVERSION FOR THE
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS

“This shows that the Drug Diversion Program is very effective at re-directing the behavior of offenders as it compares very favorably to the overall recidivism rate in Delaware. Even those who were terminated from Drug Diversion had a lower recidivism rate than the general population.”
-Judge Rocanelli

Located in each of the three counties in the Court of Common Pleas, the Drug Diversion Program (“Drug Diversion”) is a problem-solving court for those offenders who have pending charges related to drug possession but who have not been previously convicted of a drug offense. Graduates from Drug Diversion have demonstrated abstinence from alcohol and drugs and completed either a psycho-education program or treatment counseling. Successful completion of the program allows individuals to preserve a clean criminal record, and supports their efforts to obtain gainful employment, and become productive members of the community. “The Court is making every effort to maximize the limited resources available for Drug Diversion,” said Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrea Rocanelli.

In New Castle County, each client entering Drug Diversion is interviewed using a validated assessment tool. This assessment tool enables the Court to better understand each client’s risks and needs so that they can be properly assigned to the most effective track for judicial supervision, as well as education and treatment.

Also in New Castle County, the Court has created an Accelerated Track for low risk and low needs offenders who meet certain carefully defined criteria. The Accelerated Track allows for optimal supervision of the low risk and low needs offenders, separating these offenders from the higher risk and higher needs offenders. Approximately 25% of individuals who entered the CCP Drug Court Program between June 2011 and October 2012 entered into the Accelerated Track. Ninety-seven percent of those in the Accelerated Track successfully completed the program. This group of clients completed the program in an average of 14 weeks, compared to the 23 weeks on average that it took clients not in the Accelerated Track. This substantial reduction in time to complete the program may result in significantly decreased costs for service provision and court time.

“Graduation and recidivism rates are important measures of success,” stated Judge Rocanelli. She reports that of the total 473 clients who entered New Castle County Court of Common Pleas Drug Court on or after August 4, 2010, 338 clients completed the program by December 31, 2011. Approximately 83% of clients graduated and 17% were terminated and sentenced. Only 13% of graduates had a new arrest within one year for a DUI, a criminal charge or a drug charge. Of the 57 persons who were terminated during this period, 37% (or 21 persons) had a new arrest within one year for a DUI, a criminal charge or a drug charge.

New Castle County CCP Drug Diversion Program is the site for several past and on-going studies to test and develop research in the field by the Treatment Research Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. “This professional relationship offers a tremendous opportunity to be at the cutting edge of ‘best practices’ that have been developed through evidence-based research,” stated Judge Rocanelli.

For more information, contact kristen.dangello@state.de.us

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