For individuals whose criminal conduct was motivated primarily by substance abuse, the Western District of Missouri’s Intensive Drug Treatment Court program provides a unique and potentially lifesaving opportunity. Started in 2017, the program provides non-guideline sentencing alternatives to defendants whose criminal conduct was primarily motivated by addiction, and who then may be deterred from future criminal conduct by participating in a period of intensive drug treatment and support services under court supervision. The program’s multifaceted approach of intense focus on substance abuse treatment, accountability to the Court, as well as access to services that promote job and housing stability aim to reduce offender recidivism rates.
While supervised by District Court Chief Judge Beth Phillips, the program is a collaborative effort between the Court, the United States Probation and Pretrial Services Office, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and a contracted substance abuse counselor. This team selects individuals who qualify under the program’s guidelines for participation, considering the individual’s criminal background and their likelihood to respond to the program’s efforts. Together, the team strives to achieve the program’s desired goal – that participants who successfully complete the program can live healthy, productive, and law-abiding lives.
The program is structured for this success and lasts between 24 and 36 months, depending on the participant’s rate of success in each phase. Each of the program’s five phases are designed to allow the participant to gain the skills and tools necessary to succeed in the community. These phases also reflect the often long and incremental process of recovery and appropriately focus on early recovery, making positive changes, relapse prevention, maintenance, and finally, graduation from the program once the participant is able to live a sober, safe, and happy life.
While we believe that the program will have a lasting positive impact on participants, their families, and our communities, due to the program’s infancy, statistics on its success will be forthcoming.
For additional information on the Western District of Missouri' s Intensive Drug Treatment Court, contact Senior U.S. Probation Officer, Program Specialist, Katie Meister at 816-512-1309.