Drug Court-Mental Health Court
The following has been sited from, and all credit is due to the Jamestown Treatment Court, Chautauqua County page of the NYCOURTS.GOV, website updated April 2, 2019.
The Jamestown City Treatment Court (JCTC) is distinguished as establishing the first Drug Court and the first Mental Health Court in Chautauqua County. Since its inception in February 2000, the program has expanded its jurisdiction by accepting hub drug court transfers on misdemeanor cases from town and village courts throughout Chautauqua County. In addition, felonies are heard through Jamestown City Courts Acting County Court status.
Jamestown City Treatment Court expanded its traditional Adult Drug Court model to include specialized services. A Young Adult Drug Court Part was opened in October 2006 and a Mental Health Court Part was opened in November 2007. Currently, the JCTC is in the planning phase of a DWI Hybrid Court and has participated in training sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI).
Under the direction of Honorable John L. LaMancuso, the Treatment Courts are staffed by a Court Attorney, Robert Nieto, a dedicated Treatment Court Coordinator, Cathy Newton and a dedicated Case Manager, Gary Manning. The Jamestown City Treatment Court programs enjoy collaborative partnerships with the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office, and Chautauqua Office of Probation. In addition, to the legal partnerships, preferred provider relationships have been established with Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene, WCA Healthcare System and TLC Behavioral Health. Ancillary services include community education and awareness offered by Chautauqua County Chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), peer advocacy services offered by Chautauqua County Mental Health Association, and housing and vocational training through Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL).
Jamestown City Treatment Court programs have served a total of 362 individuals. Of these 362 individuals, 84 remain actively involved in programming, and 143 have successfully graduated from the Treatment Court programs. Successful graduation from the program generally required a minimum of 1 year sobriety, completion of the 12th grade or a GED, and obtainment of full-time work. Another proud achievement of the program includes the birth of 11 drug-free babies.
JCTC seeks to provide an expedited case processing method for non-violent substance abusing defendants that encourages treatment and supervision. The goal of the JCTC program is to reduce the cost of the criminal justice system by preventing recidivism caused by untreated alcohol/ drug abuse and mental health disorders.
Target population are those persons with the following characteristics:
- Defendant with at least one of the following legal situations:
- Non-violent misdemeanor offense or non-violent felony offense (violent offenses are defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3797 u-2(a).
- Violation of Probation based on a new alcohol/drug related offense or a technical violation resulting from continued alcohol/substance use.
- 16 years old or older.
- Possess a treatable alcohol/substance diagnosis and/or mental health disorder
- Untreated mental health disorder and/or alcohol/drug dependence is reflected in multiple charges or repeat offenses.
- Voluntarily agree to enter the Treatment Court program.
In order to affect an early intervention, it is preferred that candidates be identified during the arraignment stage of their legal proceedings. Participants are selected from Jamestown City Court’s Criminal Arraignment Calendar or by referral from the various stakeholders including the Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office, Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, Chautauqua County Office of Probation, and local treatment providers.
Referrals are made directly to the Treatment Court Coordinator, who within 5 days of the arrest or referral, schedules the candidate for screening. The screening is performed using the Universal Treatment Application that identifies the individuals demographic information, current arrest(s) and criminal arrest history, relationship to chemical use and treatment history, social and family supports, safety needs, vocational/financial issues, and willingness to enter the program. If interested in entering the Treatment Court, a description of the program is provided and necessary Releases of Confidential Information forms pursuant to Title 42 C.F.R. and HIPPA will be signed to allow review of the information with the Treatment Court Team.
Eligible candidates are then reviewed by legal counsel. The defense counsel reviews the arrest warrant, affidavits, accusatory instrument, and other relevant information. The prosecution reviews criminal history for assurance of non-violent statutes (as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3797 u-2(a)) and proposes a plea agreement. If in agreement with the proposed plea agreement, the defense counsel advises the defendant of any rights temporarily or permanently relinquished, the nature of the Treatment Court, rules of the program, the consequences of failure/success in the program, and any other course of action outside of the Treatment Court. If accepting the Treatment Court entry the prosecution files necessary legal documents. Both defense and prosecution relate their decisions regarding entry of the candidate to the Treatment Court within 7 days so that the candidate can be formally entered into the Treatment Court within 21 days of arrest/referral.
The JCTC is a problem-solving court dedicated to handling criminal cases involving substance abusing offenders. The program includes monitored compliance with treatment, random toxicology testing, intensive judicial supervision and a graduated system of rewards and sanctions.
The JCTC program operates under a post-adjudication structure. The post-adjudication structure secures a plea of guilt to the charge or some set of charges. Sentencing is adjourned for participation in the Treatment Court program. Upon completion or termination from the Treatment Court, the plea agreement is honored granting the participant either a reduction in charges or a reduced punitive sanction. The plea agreement also offers a unsuccessful disposition, thereby advising the participant of his/her legal situation and maximum jail sentence should he/she fail to successfully complete the program.
Program Phase Structure
- The structure of the Treatment Court is divided up among three phases. Each phase has minimum requirements, which support the defendants ability to effectively utilize treatment, remain abstinent and avoid re-arrest. Phase I is the initial phase and begins the day of contract signing extending through the first 90 days. During this phase participants accept a referral to treatment, submit to no less than two random drug screens per week, participate in self-help programs, and appear before the Treatment Court Judge weekly. The goal of Phase I is to promote abstinence from substances, promote linkage to treatment, and assist the participant to actively engage in recovery activities.
- Phase II of the program begins when the Treatment Court Team promotes the participant based on successful completion of Phase I requirements. Phase II will extend from 3 months until 8 months of participation in the program. During this phase, participants continue treatment with the possibility of completing an outpatient program. Court appearances are reduced to once every two weeks. The goal of Phase II is to encourage ongoing recovery by emphasizing vocational planning, and restitution obligations.
- Phase III is the final stage of the program and can be considered when the participant gains 8 months of continuous recovery. During this phase participant report to the court every 3 weeks. A graduation application is completed by the participant with aftercare plans encouraging ongoing recovery activities such as participation in the Treatment Court Alumni Group.