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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ind. Courts - "New rules for Clark County Drug Court"

Updating a slew of earlier ILB entries on problems at the Clark County Drug Court, Gary Popp reported yesterday in a good story in the Jeffersonville News & Tribune - some quotes:

JEFFERSONVILLE — Changes have been made to the Clark County Drug Treatment Court participant handbook that will allow those in the alternative-to-prison initiative to more easily succeed in the program, officials say.

The court held an orientation last week to notify the nearly 40 people who remain in the program of the modifications, which were handed down from the Indiana Judicial Center, or IJC.

Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael was given temporary certification to continue offering drug court in the community after the IJC stripped the program’s certification from Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi earlier this year, following accusations of misconduct by the then-drug court staff.

Carmichael says the most significant changes involve curfew, collection of fees and medically assisted treatments.

Prior to the updates, the program’s participants were subjected to a blanket curfew of 11 p.m., but now the court and case managers have discretion to modify or completely lift a participant’s curfew.

Carmichael said she and others on the drug court staffing team were concerned about participants with employment opportunities or obligations that conflicted with their curfews.

“We didn’t want to have that be a violation,” Carmichael said. “We wanted to address curfew on a case-by-case basis. There can be some incidents where a curfew isn’t necessary for [employment] situations. That was really the impetus behind changing the curfew regulation.”

With fewer curfew restrictions, some participants may now be able to attend required substance abuse meetings scheduled later in the day that would have previously prevented them from meeting curfew.

When the program operated in Clark County Circuit Court No. 2, participants paid out of pocket for each drug test administered, or amassed a significant debt to the court.

Now, a monthly fee of $50 covers all drug-testing fees for each participant.

Under the old structure, a participant was not able to fully anticipate what fees he or she would have to pay each week for drug tests, as the amount of tests a participant may be subject to each week can fluctuate as well as type of tests, which vary in cost. * * *

Finally, the new handbook for the program redefines the regulations regarding prescribed medication, specifically methadone, suboxone and subutex, which are used to treat opiate dependence.

Previously, those who were actively using methadone or other relevant medications could enter the drug court program, but could not progress through the stages, which is required to graduate, if they continued using the substances.

“There is a fine line that the courts have to follow. We can not interfere with medical treatment, and these are medical treatments,” Carmichael said. “That is a person’s right to have medical treatment, so it shouldn’t exclude them from participating in drug court.”

Carmichael hopes the new handbook will be as well received by the participants as has the overall drug court program since it was moved to her court.

“The comments I have heard in court is that they appreciate the structure. They have appreciated the work that the prosecutor and defense attorneys and [the case managers] have put in to make it successful,” she said. “I think, from the drug court-participant standpoint, it is a program now that they believe in.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 23, 2014 09:20 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts