The Elkhart County Drug Court was certified as a Problem Solving Court by the Indiana Office of Court Services in 2019. Drug Courts take an approach to help addicted offenders into long-term recovery by using a specialized model with a non-adversarial team.
The Elkhart County Drug Court offers alternative methods of addressing substance use disorders and criminal behavior through a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach for offenders addicted to or are abusing mood altering substances by providing intensive supervision. The mission of Drug Court is to reduce the use and demand for illegal substances, reduce criminal recidivism and increase public safety. Drug Court also provides the opportunity for treatment, resources and services to help participant’s recovery and become productive, responsible and law abiding citizens.
To be eligible for the Elkhart County Drug Court, the offender will be screened for eligibility by the Prosecutor’s Office. Charges must qualify, which include substance related offenses that are not drug dealing or drug manufacturing offenses. Facts of the offense must not suggest gang affiliation or activity or a crime of violence as cited in IC 35-50-1-2(a). The offender must not have a history of multiple misdemeanor or felony convictions for violence. Other factors may apply regarding eligibility.
Private attorneys, public defenders and deputy prosecuting attorneys may refer an offender to Drug Court Program staff. Once deemed eligible, an evidence-based assessment will be conducted and the offender will begin providing oral fluid or urine drug screens at local agencies. The multi-disciplinary team will then vote to accept the offender into the program. If the offender is accepted, the team will make a treatment recommendation and the Drug Court Plea Agreement will be negotiated and submitted to the court for entry into the Drug Court Program.
While in Drug Court, the participant will move through a specific phase structure. The phase structure includes the following requirements:
One way participants’ negative behavior is addressed is by use of graduated sanctions. Such sanctions include verbal interventions, letters of apology, essays, completion of community service, journaling, criminal thinking approaches, denial of future travel plans, phase demotion, home detention and jail sanctions.
Rewards, or incentives, for participants’ behavior include verbal praise from the Judge and team members, applause from Court staff, being excused from court early, gift cards, free drug screens, social support materials, sobriety tokens and certificates of achievement.
After at least 18 months of participation and the participant completes all Program requirements, graduation will be considered. The participant’s charges may be dismissed or reduced, may not spend time incarcerated, or a violation will be dismissed.
If the participant fails to complete program requirements, the participant will be sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement.