The Buffalo C.O.U.R.T.S. Program
The mission of the C.O.U.R.T.S. Program is to intervene in the justice system process as early in the continuum as possible. Through treatment referral and closely supervised community reintegration, the C.O.U.R.T.S. Program aims to interrupt the vicious cycle of addiction, associated criminality, arrest, prosecution, conviction, incarceration, release, relapse, criminality and re-arrest.
C.O.U.R.T.S. Program Description
The C.O.U.R.T.S. Program which was established in 1995, will perform the initial screening of Buffalo Treatment Courts referrals. In addition all Buffalo City Court Judges referred defendants for additional screening and referral to different types of treatment according to the defendant needs. The C.O.U.R.T.S. Program averages 6,000 to 6,500 referrals per calendar year.
Defendants will then be placed with a participating treatment provider based upon reported substance being abused, geographical location, and insurance issues. Further assessment will be completed at the clinical level. The C.O.U.R.T.S. Program is located within the Buffalo City Court Building. Onsite services are important for the following reasons
• Direct ties to the court promote the use of the crisis initiated by the arrest to engage defendants into treatment;
• Builds positive links with case managers (C.O.U.R.T.S. program staff);
• Establish the on-site location (C.O.U.R.T.S.) as “home-base” for future services after release from incarceration or program completion;
• Incorporate the court, itself, as a central member of the treatment team in an effort to combine judicial authority with personalized services.
The C.O.U.R.T.S. Program combines the influence of legal sanctions for probable or proven crimes with justice system dispositions: deferred prosecution, creative community sentencing, diversion, and pretrial intervention to motivate treatment cooperation by the non-violent substance abuser.
C.O.U.R.T.S. screens and refers appropriate nonviolent drug dependent offenders to an established treatment consortium as an alternative or supplement existing justice system sanctions and procedures.
C.O.U.R.T.S. will continue to monitor nonviolent drug offenders’ compliance with individual tailored service plans for abstinence, employment, and improved social-personal functioning.
Screening will include a speedy, brief interview and the administration of a standardized screening instrument to identify potential candidates for the Drug Court. Three questions will be answered through the screening process: (1) Is this an appropriate candidate for Drug Court, Mental Health Court or Veterans Court; (2) What services are needed; and (3) What program is the best match for the client.
Placement within the established treatment consortium is based upon, but not limited to, the reported substance abused, social and psychological risk factors, geographical location and insurance issues. Further assessment will be completed at the clinical/agency level by certified or eligible substance abuse professionals
The assessment process is descriptive as well as prescriptive. The purpose is to accurately determine whether the defendant has a condition that sufficiently meets the current diagnostic criteria for abuse, dependence or a mental health diagnosis.
Establishing a diagnosis is a prerequisite for admission to a treatment program or a recommendation that clinical services be considered by identifying the individual’s strengths, weakness, and readiness for treatment. Based on the assessment, a level of service will be recommended appropriate to address the defendant's problems and/or deficiencies. Communication Communication between the Referral Unit, Treatment Provider and Criminal Justice System must begin at the entry level and be carried on throughout the duration of the court case. The need for sharing information dictates that releases have to be signed. Current O.A.S.A.S. approved criminal justice release forms will be utilized. A mechanism will be formalized from the point of contact to facilitate smooth and continuous exchange of information between agencies.
A Court Progress Report containing current and pertinent information will be faxed/e-mail to the C.O.U.R.T.S. Program from the treatment provider prior to the defendant-client’s scheduled appearance before the Judge. This report will document attendance, drug test results, subjective observational and further recommendations. While Drug Court, Mental Health Court, or Veterans Court is in session, a C.O.U.R.T.S. program staff member will be present to relay information and act as liaison between the Judge and the treatment provider.
This staff will have the ability to communicate directly with the treatment provider to immediately extract additional information which the Judge may request.