Alexandria Treatment Court
The mission of the Alexandria Treatment Court (ATC) is to support individuals in achieving recovery and to thereby enhance public safety by reducing recidivism. ATC’s goals are achieved by providing treatment and ancillary services to offending citizens, utilizing a holistic and collaborative approach with the goal of participants becoming law-abiding, healthy, and productive members of the Alexandria community.
ATC is a paradigm of City cooperation as a plethora of City agencies partner with OCA, to include, but not to be limited to: the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Pre-trial Services and Local Probation (ACJS), the Office of the Public Defender, the Circuit Court, the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS), the Office of Probation & Parole (P&P), the Alexandria Police Department, and the City Manager’s Office.
OCA assigns a senior assistant to serve as the ATC prosecutor.
Summary of the Program
Adults who are charged with a non-violent, felony offense and diagnosed with having moderate to severe substance use disorder are eligible to participate in ATC. Offending citizens are required to participate in more intensive supervision and treatment than individuals would typically receive on probation. ATC participants receive immediate sanctions and rewards for positive and negative behavior. Participants proceed through five phases, each with different requirements that are tied to assisting them in achieve sobriety and recovery. City partners provide wrap-around services to address conditions such as homelessness, unemployment, lack of medical care, and educational needs.
Scope of the Program
ATC had an original goal to support, enroll at minimum 5 citizens: with an original program enrollment cap of 10. However, due to the effectiveness of the program, we are currently on track to exceed the original cap enrollment at just over two years from the original inception date. Currently, the assigned assistant serves not only as the treatment court prosecutor, but also as the coordinator for the program. The program may be expanded should the City procure additional support.
The ATC Process
A potential participant is identified, typically by their defense counsel, shortly after being charged with an eligible offense. Eligible offenses include felony probation violations, felony narcotics possession, prescription fraud, assault on law enforcement and felony property crimes where commission of the offense is associated with the offender’s substance use disorder (either the offense was committed while under the influence or was committed in an attempt to obtain narcotics). Individuals charged with distribution or possession with intent to distribute narcotics may also qualify if their case meets weight limits for the amount of contraband possessed and there is no evidence the offender profited from the commission of the offense.
Once a participant has been identified, OCA assesses the case: a) to verify that the offender is eligible, b) to consult with any victim and/or the arresting officer as necessary and c) to determine an appropriate proposed disposition if the offender successfully graduates from the program. Offenders who would otherwise face lengthy incarceration may receive an entirely suspended sentence. In some cases, the case might be dismissed upon successful completion of the program. Once OCA has determined that an offender is eligible, the offender is referred to DCHS to be clinically assessed.
Once DCHS has consented to an offender’s participation in the program, the ATC assistant formally takes over the case and works with defense counsel to have the matter placed on the next ATC docket for disposition. The offender then enters a plea of guilty or no contest and begins the program. A participant’s typical week includes at least one individual meeting with a therapist, participation in MATRIX (a relapse prevention group), at least three recovery support groups such as NA/AA/CA, two to three random drug screens, attending the ATC docket, abiding by a 9:00 p.m. curfew, and meeting with a probation officer. Requirements change as a participant progresses through the program.
Every Thursday at 1:00 p.m., the ATC team (comprising a judge, the ATC assistant, defense attorney, therapist, police officer, and probation officer), meet in Judge’s Chambers to assess each participant’s compliance for the preceding week. The cases are then called in the courtroom itself and the judge engages in a dialogue with the participant about the past week. The judge may impose a sanction (verbal reprimand, flash incarceration, community service, earlier curfew, etc.) or an incentive (verbal praise, increased privileges in the program, a certificate, or gift card).
A participant graduates the ATC by completing all five phases. The process takes at least 18 to 24 months. If a participant is terminated from the program for non-compliance, his or her case immediately moves to sentencing.
The Treatment Court Assistant’s Primary Responsibilities
The assistant assigned as the ATC coordinator is responsible for:
- prosecuting treatment court cases;
- convening the ATC Steering Committee and Advisory Committee as needed;
- facilitating communication between Treatment Team members, including providing a written summary each week about participant conduct;
- maintaining statistics regarding admission into and progress in the program;
- developing forms and manuals for the program;
- identifying and applying for grants and other financial resources to grow the program;
- participating in regular training and interfacing with community partners about the program.