Drug Treatment Court Funding Program Evaluation
2. Overview of the Drug Treatment Court Funding Program
This section of the report provides a description of the DTCFP structure, roles and responsibilities.
2.1. The DTCFP
DTCs have been operating longer and much more extensively in the United States than in Canada. The first drug court was established in Florida in 1989, and there are currently over 2,100 such courts across the United States. They were established in response to the soaring number of arrests and incarcerations as a result of the continued and vigorous prosecution of the “drug-related crime”. DTCs also exist in the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Bermuda, Brazil, Ireland and Australia.
In Canada, DTCs were introduced as pilot demonstration projects in Toronto in 1998 and in Vancouver in 2001, using funding from the Crime Prevention Investment Fund (CPIF) of the National Crime Prevention Strategy. When Canada’s Drug Strategy (CDS) was renewed in 2003, the DTCFP was established. The DTCFP is now part of the National Anti-Drug Strategy. Under the Treatment Component of the Strategy, which addresses the challenges created by drug-addicted offenders in the criminal justice system, Justice Canada manages the DTCFP.
During the years covered by the evaluation (FYs 2009–10 to 2013–14), there were six fully operational DTCs funded by the DTCFP. The two original DTCs began operations before the establishment of the DTCFP: the Toronto Drug Treatment Court (since December 1998) and the Drug Treatment Court and Resource Centre of Vancouver (since December 2001). The four additional DTCs have been in operation for about nine years: the Edmonton Drug Treatment and Community Restoration Court (since December 2005); the Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court (since January 2006); the Drug Treatment Court of Ottawa (since March 2006); and the Regina Drug Treatment Court (since October 2006). For ease of reading, the DTCs will be referred to by location throughout this report.
The DTCFP represents a concerted effort to break the cycle of drug use and criminal recidivism through innovative partnerships among the criminal justice system, drug treatment services, and social service agencies. DTCs provide an alternative to incarceration by offering the offender an opportunity to participate in a court-monitored, community-based drug treatment process.
The objectives of the DTCFP are to:
- promote and strengthen the use of alternatives to incarceration (with a particular focus on youth, Footnote 1 Aboriginal men and women, and street prostitutes);
- build knowledge and awareness among criminal justice, health and social service practitioners, and the general public about DTCs; and
- collect information and data on the effectiveness of DTCs in order to promote best practices and the continuing refinement of approaches.
2.2. The DTC Model in Canada
In Canada, under the Department of Justice Canada’s DTCFP, the DTC model has continued to evolve to address local community contexts and population needs. DTCs are provincial courts. Currently, they target adult, non-violent offenders who have been charged under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) or the Criminal Code in cases where their drug addiction was a factor in the offence. Offenders who are interested in participating in the DTC are assessed to ensure that they meet the Court participation criteria. Rather than being incarcerated, DTC participants receive a non-custodial sentence upon completion of treatment.
The key elements of DTCs funded under the Department of Justice Canada’s DTCFP include:
- a dedicated court that monitors the DTC participant’s compliance and progress;
- the provision of appropriate drug treatment services and case management to assist the DTC participant in overcoming drug addiction; and
- community support through referrals to social services (such as housing and employment services) that can help stabilize and support the offender in making treatment progress and in complying with the conditions of the DTC.
Each DTC has its own unique characteristics. However, there are certain characteristics that are common across the DTCs. For example, the programs are voluntary and the accused must voluntarily apply to enter the Court. The participants in the DTCs are most commonly charged with non-violent Criminal Code offences, such as theft, possession of stolen property, non-residential break and enter, mischief, and communication for the purpose of prostitution. With respect to drug offences, the more frequent offences are those of simple possession, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and trafficking (at the street level). The above-noted offences are generally known to be committed by individuals who are trying to feed an addiction.
The Crown screens potential participants for eligibility, and each DTC can set its own eligibility criteria. The Crown initially screens the applications; the Crown may also determine that an accused is suited to the DTC and suggest that he can apply for the program. The admission process is similar at the DTCs: eligible applicants are assessed by treatment personnel, but it is ultimately the judge's decision whether to admit the applicant into the program.
The accused must entera guilty pleato be admitted into the DTC program and hasa period of time (e.g., 30 days) to withdraw the guilty plea and re-enter the traditional criminal justice system. The participant is assessed in order to create a treatment plan that is tailored to his or her specific needs. DTC staff will help ensure that the participant has safe housing, stable employment, and/or an education. The length of the program is approximately one year. Each participant is subject to random urine screening.
The participant will be required to appear personally in court on a regular basis. It is expected that the participant will be honest and disclose any high-risk activities and information on whether or not he or she has relapsed. The judge will review his or her progress and can either impose sanctions (e.g., a few days in jail) or provide rewards (e.g., coffee card).
To graduate from the program, participants must meet several criteria, including being abstinent for a certain period of time, complying with all conditions of the program, and showing evidence of life skills improvement, such as finding stable housing or employment. Participants who successfully graduate from the DTC may receive a non-custodial sentence. The sentence may include a period of probation, restitution and/or fines.
Although each DTC shares the same key elements (dedicated court, treatment and community support), operational structures and processes vary to some extent. The DTC court component usually consists of a judge, Crown, defence, probation officer, court staff, police, treatment, and community liaison. The vast majority of DTC participants have multiple issues (e.g., serious addiction to illicit drugs, mental health concerns, inadequate housing, reliance on income assistance, minimal employment/education opportunities) and are assessed as medium to high risk to re-offend. A dedicated treatment plan with a strong case management component ensures that the offender is directed to existing services within the community. By accessing these services, the offender establishes a network of community supports that continues beyond the time spent in the DTC.
Nonetheless, as shown in Section 2.5 below, each court varies somewhat in its structure and design and delivery. Some of the differences relate to the type of funding recipient, composition of the DTC team, court component, treatment providers and activities, program length, and graduation requirements.
The DTCFP is a contributions funding program that provides financial support to provinces, communities and organizations to implement DTCs in Canada. DTCFP recipients are selected through an open solicitation and transparent review process. Three sites (Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa) have non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as funding recipients, and three sites have provincial departments as funding recipients (Vancouver, Regina and Edmonton). The Program has signed contribution agreements with each of the DTCFP-funded DTCs, which cover 2009 to 2014. Through these agreements, the Government of Canada funds up to 100% of eligible costs up to the maximum funding allowed per site. The following table summarizes the DTCFP's contributions to each DTC.
2.4 Logic Model
A logic model is a graphical depiction of how the activities of the DTCFP and DTC pilots funded under the DTCFP are expected to lead to shared outcomes. Through the DTC pilots the DTCFP supports innovative partnerships among the criminal justice system, drug addiction treatment services and social service providers to reduce the health, social and economic costs of illicit substance abuse. The following page presents the logic model for the DTCFP and DTCs.
Government of Canada’s Drug Treatment Court Funding Program (DTCFP) Logic Model
The Goal of the DTCFP is to break the cycle of drug use and criminal recidivism through innovative partnerships among the criminal justice system, drug treatment services, and social service agencies
There are three activities for the DTCFP:
Activity 1: Communications/ Partnerships. Disseminate information and communication materials, Networking, Partnership-building
Activity 2: DTC Implementation.
- DTCFP: Solicit, review and approve applications for DTC funding. Manage signed funded agreements, approve budgets, and ensure reporting requirements are met.
- DTC: Court Monitoring, Treatment Case Management, Community/ Social Services Referrals, and Screening Eligibility of DTC Participants
Activity 3: Research Performance, Measurement and Evaluation. Collect, analyze DTC performance and evaluation information
These activities are targeting the following populations:
For activity 1 the target population is: Inter- and Intra-governmental and community stakeholders, NGOs, professional associations, general public
For activity 2 the target population is: DTCFP: Provincial Partners, Court, Treatment, Service Providers, Community,
DTC: Eligible DTC participants
For activity 3 the target population is: Policy-Makers, Practitioners, and Public
These activities are expected to leas to the following outputs:
Output 1 for Activity 1: Communication products, Websites, meetings, teleconferences, and workshops.
Output 2 for Activity 2: DTCFP: Signed Agreements and DTC Operational Sites/Services, Court Appearances, Treatment Sessions, and Community
Output 3 for activity 3: Research, Performance Measurement and Evaluation, DTCIS, reports and research papers as well as Federal performance and evaluation reports/products
These outputs are expected to lead to the following outcomes
Immediate outcome for Activity and output 1: Facilitate networking and increased DTC knowledge/ awareness and collaboration.
Immediate outcome for Activity and output 2:
- Retention in DTC
- Compliance with DTC Conditions
- Addiction Treatment Progress
- Access/Utilization of Community Services/Supports
Immediate outcome for Activity and output 3: Promising practices shared, strengthened performance measurement systems
Intermediate outcome for activity, output and immediate outcome 1: Strengthened network of stakeholders to ensure ongoing support
Intermediate outcome for activity, output and immediate outcome 2:
- Reduction in illicit drug use
- Enhanced social stability
- Reduction in criminal recidivism
Intermediate outcome for activity, output and immediate outcome 3: Evidence-based improvements for DTCFP and DTCs in Canada
Overall, the DTCFP will contribute to the following ultimate NADS Outcomes:
- Reduced demand for illicit drugs
- Reduction in harms associated with problematic substance use
- Reduction in health, social and economic costs associated with problematic substance use
2.5. Profiles of the DTCFP-Funded DTCs in Canada Footnote 2
As noted in Section 2.2, the DTCs have their own structure, which is intended to meet local needs. Table 2 provides an overview of the DTCs.
Table 2: Description of DTC Models
Three sites have NGOs as funding recipients:
- Toronto – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Winnipeg – Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
- Ottawa – Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services
Three sites have provincial departments as funding recipients:
- Vancouver – Corrections Branch, BC Ministry of Justice
- Regina – Saskatchewan Justice
Edmonton – Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
All court teams include judge(s), Crown, and duty counsel. Unlike other sites, Ottawa does not have dedicated judge(s); instead, five different judges rotate.
Most sites have provincial and Federal Crown attached to the DTC, except for Vancouver and Winnipeg (Federal Crown only).
All sites have probation officers. In some sites, they are considered part of the court team, while in other sites, they work more closely with the treatment team (Vancouver, Regina).
Treatment staff typically include managers and addictions therapists or counsellors. The exception is Edmonton, which does not provide direct treatment services and only has treatment and probation managers.
Vancouver and Regina also have medical assistance at their treatment centres (e.g., psychologist, addictions nurse). Some sites have other specialized positions (e.g., community and cultural liaison, police liaison, employment assistance worker).
All sites have at least one committee that oversees the operation of the Program. Three sites (Toronto, Regina, and Winnipeg) have two committees. Committee membership will typically include representatives from provincial ministries of justice, health agencies, police services, and various community organizations. Committees from Regina and Vancouver include representatives from Justice Canada.
Sites vary in the number of clients they can serve. The target capacity of each site is as follows:
- Toronto – 48 (usually operates with 50 clients plus continuing care clients)
- Vancouver – 100
- Edmonton – 30
- Winnipeg – 30
- Ottawa – 35
- Regina – 30
Sites vary in the number of court sessions they require each week; however, all sites will reduce the number of sessions if the participant is showing progress. The initial frequency of court appearances is listed below.
- Toronto – twice weekly
- Vancouver – twice weekly
- Edmonton – weekly
- Winnipeg – weekly
- Ottawa – weekly
- Regina – weekly
All sites require regular (at least weekly) random drug testing.
All sites have pre-court meetings, prior to the court sessions, with the judge, Crown(s), treatment team, and defence counsel. The treatment team provides updates on client progress and treatment recommendations at these meetings.
Based on the outcome of these meetings, the DTC judge uses a number of sanctions and admonishments to encourage participants to continue in the program, and rewards when they show progress.
Sites have different approaches to treatment provision. Some have most services provided in house, while others refer to other treatment organizations. The primary treatment providers, by site, are listed below.
- Toronto – CAMH
- Vancouver – Vancouver Coastal Health
- Edmonton – no single treatment provider; refer to a variety of providers for day or residential treatment
- Winnipeg – DTC staff (who are hired by Addictions Foundation of Manitoba) provide core treatment services, although the program also frequently refers elsewhere for additional treatment services
- Ottawa – Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services
- Regina – DTC staff
The format and approach of treatment varies across the sites. All involve group and individual counselling. All sites have phased programs that direct participants through different stages, such as assessment, stabilization, intensive treatment, relapse prevention or maintenance, and graduation. Edmonton has a unique, highly individualized treatment approach, where the treatment team and the participant develop a treatment plan that tailors intervention strategies and treatment services to the specific needs and goals of the participant.
Residential treatment and housing services offered vary by site, each of which is briefly described below.
- Toronto – Developed permanent, funded and unfunded partnerships with a number of community organizations and agencies for supportive housing.
- Vancouver – Care team works in collaboration with the on-site employment and assistance worker to secure housing for clients, usually in market housing or recovery houses.
- Edmonton – Participants are referred to pre-existing day or residential treatment programs.
- Winnipeg – The DTC has established a relationship with Manitoba Housing Authority.
- Ottawa – Contract with Ottawa Withdrawal Management for the provision of one bed (short term, seven days).
- Regina – Participants are typically referred to YWCA, YMCA, The Salvation Army, and Welfare Rights for housing.
There is no set length for completing the DTC program, as it is based on moving through program phases and meeting the graduation criteria; however, it generally takes approximately one year in order to complete the program. Estimates are given below.
- Toronto – 12 months (most participants attend for 18-24 months)
- Vancouver – minimum 14 months
- Edmonton – minimum 12 months
- Winnipeg – 12 to 18 months
- Ottawa – 9 to 16 months
- Regina – minimum 9 months
Two programs (Toronto and Ottawa) have adopted multiple levels of graduation. Toronto has two levels (“full graduation” and “successful completion”) and Ottawa has three levels. Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton and Regina each have one set of graduation criteria. The type of sentence received upon completion of the program depends on the level of graduation attained (honours or other). Criteria for basic graduation are described below (not the highest level but also not the lowest level of completion, which is based on length of time in the program and evidence of some positive changes).
Length of treatment: For basic graduation, five sites (Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton) have a required length of time in the program.
Abstinence: This varies by site: complete abstinence for at least three months (Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto) or four months (Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina).
Criminal offences: Some sites require no new criminal offences for a minimum of three (Toronto) or six months (Vancouver and Winnipeg). The other sites do not have this as a graduation requirement.
Social stability: Sites have various ways for demonstrating social stability, but almost all sites have this requirement. Examples are stable housing (Toronto and Vancouver), engaging in productive activities such as employment or volunteer work (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg), acting on their plans for returning to the community, or showing progress toward their treatment goals (Ottawa, Edmonton and Regina).
Note: This table is a compilation of DTC profile descriptions (Appendix A), which were validated by each DTCFP.
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