Collaborative or “problem solving” Courts are specialized court tracks that address underlying issues that may be present in the lives of persons who come before the court on criminal, juvenile, or dependency matters.
These life-changing programs involve active judicial monitoring and a team approach to decision making, and include the participation of a variety of different agencies, such as Probation and health treatment providers. Below is a brief description of each of the Collaborative Court programs offered by the Orange County Superior Court.
For further information you may also access the California Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts online Collaborative Court information.
ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR ADULT AND JUVENILE OFFENDERS
ADULT DRUG COURT
Adult Drug Court is a collaboration of agencies — including the Court, the Probation Department, the Health Care Agency, the Public Defender’s office, the District Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Department and other local law enforcement — which provides an alternative to incarceration for defendants who meet the program’s eligibility criteria.
The four-phase Drug Court program consists of intensive supervision by a Drug Court probation officer, individual and group counseling provided by the Health Care Agency’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, frequent court appearances, random drug and alcohol testing, and regular team meetings to discuss the participant’s progress.
As participants progress through the phases they are held accountable to program requirements, if they are non compliant they can receive sanctions ranging from an essay, community service, jail sanction, and program termination. Participants are also rewarded with incentives for positive behavior, such as phase advancements, decreased program requirements, drawings for movie tickets, and program graduation.
In order to graduate participants are required to obtain their high school diploma or a GED; to be gainfully employed or attending a training/academic program; to attend regular self-help meetings, and to have maintained consistent attendance at all court hearings, probation and counseling appointments.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Courts have been established to target second and third-time drunk driving offenders. These voluntary programs provide participants with professional assistance to address substance abuse issues.
In addition to sobriety, the DUI Court program emphasizes rebuilding family ties, maintaining employment and a stable living environment, and pursuing educational goals.
The program is a partnership that includes the Superior Court, the Probation Department, the Health Care Agency, the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, MADD, and local law enforcement agencies.
HOMELESS OUTREACH COURT
The Homeless Outreach Court is convened at four community locations. The goal of the Court is to resolve the infractions, low-level misdemeanor offenses, and outstanding warrants of homeless individuals, while providing them with links to necessary supportive services.
The program is a collaborative effort of the Superior Court, the Public Defender, the Public Law Center, the Veterans Administration, the Health Care Agency, the County Department of Housing and Community Services, local law enforcement agencies, and several homeless services providers from the community.
Participation in agency programs and community service are substituted for the traditional court sanctions of fines and custody.
JUVENILE RECOVERY COURT
Juvenile Recovery Court is a 12 month court-based intervention program for substance abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services. It is a collaborative endeavor between the Juvenile Court, District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, Health Care Agency and Waymakers, a community resources provider.
The Juvenile Recovery Court program is a combination of substance abuse treatment, sanctions, and incentives designed to rehabilitate drug-involved youth, empower families to support them, and prevent reoffending. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges against the youth will be dismissed and the records sealed.
Opportunity Court is a voluntary program for non–violent drug offenders who have been sentenced to and are engaged in the Proposition 36 (P.C. 1210) program but, as a result of their chronic, persistent mental illness are unable to comply with the requirements of the P.C. 1210 program.
The participants must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder and are supported by readily available psychiatric services.
Opportunity Court program involves frequent court appearances, weekly meetings with the Probation Officer and Health Care Coordinator, regular drug and alcohol testing, residential substance abuse treatment, and attendance at individual and group counseling sessions – all of which are based on the Drug Court model.
Participants are also assisted in accessing medical services, employment counseling, job training and placement, government benefits, and housing.
Funded by a grant obtained by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department through the Mentally Ill Offenders Crime Reduction Act (MIOCR), the Recovery Court is a voluntary program for misdemeanor offenders suffering from chronic and persistent mental illness.
The participants must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder.
The program provides participants with psychiatric services which may be initiated in the jail. Once the offender is released from custody they are provided with on-going psychiatric services and mental health counseling, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, residential treatment, and assistance in accessing medical services, employment counseling, job training and placement, government benefits, and housing.
The program involves frequent court appearances, regular drug and alcohol testing, meetings with the Recovery Court support team, and direct access to specialized services.
The Truancy Court targets chronically truant youth, with the goal of eliminating their school truancies and absences, reducing their risk of criminal delinquency, and increasing their chances of future academic success.
The monitoring and accountability program involves the youth and their parents in a collaboration with the Juvenile Court, the Probation Department, the Department of Education, the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Social Services Agency, the Health Care Agency, and the community-based Parent Empowerment Program.
Veterans Court offers a therapeutic alternative and support services to US military service personnel who become involved with the criminal justice system, and who are in need of effective mental health treatment to address issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder “PTSD”, Traumatic Brain Injury “TBI” and other serious mental health problems. Veterans Court, which opened in November 2008 at the Community Court building, is a collaborative partnership with the Veterans Administration, which has funded a full-time case manager, and with other State and local veteran service providers.
WIT “Whatever It Takes” Court is a voluntary program for non-violent offenders who have been diagnosed as chronically, persistently mentally ill and are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The participants must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder.
Through services funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) the participants are provided with mental health counseling, psychiatric services, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, residential treatment, safe housing, family counseling and peer mentoring.
Clients are also assisted in accessing medical services, employment counseling, job training and placement, government benefits, and housing.
The program involves frequent court appearances, regular drug and alcohol testing, meetings with the WIT Court support team, and direct access to specialized services.
DEPENDENCY TEEN PROGRAMS
Boys Court is a program that addresses the critical needs of at-risk boys in the dependency system, from 12 to 17 years old, whose lives are being derailed by mental health issues, substance abuse, or academic failure. Boys Court is a partnership that includes Orange County’s Social Services Agency, Health Care Agency, Department of Education, and the Probation Department, as well as a number of ancillary service providers. Participants in Boys Court, many of whom are living in foster care group homes, receive appropriate treatment and counseling, and are helped to learn the skills they need to deal with issues of trust and safety, build healthy and appropriate relationships, and gain the competencies that are necessary for successful, independent living.
Girls Court is a program for girls from 12 to 17 years of age who are in the dependency system, many of whom are living in foster care group homes. The goal of the program is to help the young participants facing mental health issues, substance abuse and academic failure to receive treatment and counseling, and to gain the skills and resources they need to achieve stable, productive lives. The program currently has a capacity of 30 girls and is convened at the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange. It features a dedicated judicial officer and a team that includes representatives from the Court, the Health Care Agency, the Social Services Agency, the Probation Department, and the Orange County Department of Education.
Source: The Superior Court of California, County of Orange