Authorized under Illinois Law pursuant to 730 ILCS 166, Drug Court is a specialized problem-solving court for non-violent offenders with a substance abuse dependency and who demonstrate a willingness and likelihood for rehabilitation. This unique criminal justice program provides for increased judicial supervision and accountability of the participant while providing expedited access to substance abuse treatment. Drug Court is a voluntary program, but participation is subject to meeting the eligibility criteria and obtaining approval and acceptance of the Drug Court team. Certain Drug Court dispositions may afford the participant an opportunity to avoid conviction on the pending charges.
Nationally, drug court programs have been proven to lower recidivism rates among participants, meaning fewer return trips to jails and prisons resulting in savings to taxpayers. The benefits to the individual recovering from substance abuse problems are immeasurable, including, but not limited to, improving relationships with family, increased self-esteem, better health and increased likelihood for employment.
The Winnebago County Drug Court began in October 1996. It is a collaborative effort between the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, Winnebago County Adult Probation Department, Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office, Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office, as well as substance abuse providers like T.A.S.C., Rosecrance, and P.H.A.S.E.
- Defendant must be screened and approved for entry into the Drug Court Program by the Drug Court Case Intake Coordinator.
- Defendant must be assessed by TASC and found to be dependent on substances.
- Defendant must sign a consent form at the time of sentencing or referral into the program.
- Statutory: 730 ILCS 166, et. seq.
- Must be by agreement of the prosecutor and the defendant and approval of the Court.
- Defendant must not deny drug use or addiction to drugs.
- Defendant must demonstrate a willingness to participate in a treatment program.
- Defendant must not have been convicted of a crime of violence within the past 10 years.
- Defendant must not have previously been admitted to a drug court program.
- Additional Criteria*
- Felonies only, no misdemeanors.
- Class 1 and 2 felony drug cases will be considered only if there are no prior Class X, 1 or 2 felony drug convictions.
- No DUI’s as a predicate offense, except felony DUI-Drug cases.
- No Chapter 20 probation cases.
- Defendant must reside in Winnebago County.
- No mental illness or physical impairments which prohibit participation in a substance abuse program.
- The current charge must not be a crime of violence as defined in 730 ILCS 166/20.
- No domestic battery cases.
* Cases which might otherwise be ineligible for entry into the Drug Court Program based on these criteria may be reviewed for admission into the program by the Case Intake Coordinator upon request of counsel or the Court.
Treatments standards are set out in the respective contracts between the Court and the treatment agencies. With each treatment facility, the program will include an intensive outpatient component of three hours per day, three days a week for up to two months, or as clinically justified utilizing American Society of Addictive Medicine (ASAM) patient placement and continuing-stay criteria. Inpatient treatment may also be available if deemed appropriate and available. Each contract sets out the duties and responsibilities of the treatment agency.
A reduction in recidivism saves cost to the community because fewer people are returning to jail, court, probation and prison. Drug courts produce numerous savings in public health care, financial assistance, and social service programs:
According to a 1998 study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, for every $1 spent on Drug Court, the community saves $10 in other related costs.
According to a 2003 study by NPC Research, Inc. & Judicial Council of California, for every 100 participants involved in Drug Court, there was a reported savings of approximately $242,006 in “avoided overall criminal justice costs.”