OCA Announces Treatment Court Initiative
For Immediate Release: January 4, 2019
Bryan Porter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria, announced that the City of Alexandria is implementing a treatment court designed to provide treatment as an alternative to incarceration for individuals with significant substance-abuse problems. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney will be responsible for the administrative management of the new program.
Citizens accused of felony offenses related to the possession or consumption of drugs or property crimes committed to feed the citizen’s addiction will be eligible to participate in the treatment court. Participants must be classified as “high-risk/high-need,” meaning that they have been diagnosed as having a substance-use disorder and are considered persons who would benefit from intensive treatment.
Citizens who are participating in the program will receive substance abuse treatment through the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services, to include intensive testing, treatment and therapy aimed at addressing the underlying substance-abuse disorder. Participants will also receive assistance in accessing medical, mental health, education and employment services in the hope of addressing barriers to rehabilitation. Participants who successfully complete the program will, in most cases, earn a dismissal of their underlying criminal charges. Successful participants will also avoid an active penitentiary sentence.
The treatment court is the product of an intensive planning initiative conducted by an Advisory Committee comprising representatives of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services, the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, the Alexandria Police Department, the City Manager’s Office, the Alexandria Circuit Court, the Alexandria Public Defender, the Office of Probation and Parole, the Alexandria Clerk of Court and Offender Aid and Restoration. Over the past year, committee members worked tirelessly, travelling to observe other treatment courts in action, designing a program that addresses Alexandria’s unique needs and applying for authority to implement the program.
It is anticipated that Alexandria’s treatment court will commence operation in March of 2019. In the meantime, the Advisory Committee continues to build the legal and administrative infrastructure necessary for the program to succeed.
With regard to the new program, Porter said: “Innovative initiatives are needed to address the specter of substance abuse disorders. Citizens who commit non-violent crimes as a result of a substance-abuse disorder do not need lengthy incarceration; instead, they need treatment and understanding so that the underlying root cause of their behavior is addressed.”
“Far too often, police, the sheriff and prosecutors are asked to be the primary treatment providers for substance abuse disorders, and it should be obvious that we have neither the expertise nor the resources to adequately address the myriad of issues raised by substance abuse.”
“Therefore, I specifically thank the agencies that have partnered with my office in creating this new initiative, to include the Department of Community and Human Services, the Sheriff’s Office, the Adult Probation and Parole Office and members of the Police Department’s Vice/Narcotics Section.”
“The large number of City agencies that are part of this initiative stands as testament to the collaborative ethic of Alexandria’s government in addressing issues of public concern. I would also like to thank the work of the City of Alexandria’ Opioid Work Group. The treatment court was one of the top priorities identified and advocated by that group. Finally, the City Manager’s Office has been extremely supportive of the treatment court and I appreciate its efforts.”
“This new program goes hand-in-hand with my office’s Mental Health Initiative. Along with a team of other City partners, my office has recently introduced significant initiatives designed to address mental health and substance abuse issues. These ‘problem-solving’ innovations are examples of my commitment to addressing the underlying causes of crime.”
“When a citizen graduates from the treatment court, everyone wins: the accused, who will not re-offend and who can become a productive member of the
community, the citizenry, which will not suffer future recidivism and the police, the sheriff and my office, all of which can focus on volitional criminality and violent crimes.”
To learn more about the City’s approach to addressing the opioid crisis and the work of the Opioid Work Group, please see: www.alexandriava.gov/Opioids.