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Treatment Intervention Court

The Treatment Intervention Court provides programs to help people charged with offences who have mental health or mental impairment and/or illicit drug use problems.

The Court operates from all metropolitan Magistrates Courts - Adelaide, Christies Beach, Elizabeth and Port Adelaide. It also operates in the Youth Court.

The Treatment Intervention Court replaces the former Magistrates Court Diversion Program (except where the program is still operating in regional Magistrates Courts) and the Drug Diversion Court (although many people still refer to the Treatment Intervention Court as the Drug Court).

What is the rationale for a Treatment Intervention Court?

Empirical research from social science disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry, criminology, social work, medicine and correctional services confirms a relationship between illicit drug use and mental health problems. As such, there is a growing awareness of the link between illicit drug use and mental health: the high rate of occurrence of co-morbidity whereby a person suffers from both conditions at the same time, and the need for intervention and treatment which addresses both conditions, preferably as early as possible. In addition, illicit drug use and mental health problems are identified as criminogenic factors associated with criminal behaviour and research indicates there is a high rate of co-morbidity amongst criminal offenders.

Treatment court programs, such as that offered through the Treatment Intervention Court, recognise the complex interplay between mental health issues, drug dependence and criminal offending, and are able to provide intervention and treatment which address both problems simultaneously.

Treatment Intervention Court Aims

The programs offered through the Treatment Intervention Court aim to improve the health and wellbeing of the participant and reduce recidivism rates by stabilising the defendant's mental and physical health and addressing their drug dependence.

Treatment Intervention Court Streams

There are four treatment streams within the Treatment Intervention Court:

  • The twelve month substance dependence stream. This is only available in the Adelaide Magistrates Court (this stream was formerly known as the Drug Court Program);
  • The six month substance dependence stream;
  • The six month mental impairment stream;
  • The six month co-morbidity stream for defendants with both mental impairment and substance dependency issues.

All treatment streams apart from the 12 month substance dependence stream are available at all metropolitan Magistrates Courts - Adelaide, Christies Beach, Elizabeth and Port Adelaide. They are also available in the Youth Court.

The six month streams are aimed at defendants who have committed minor indictable and/or summary offence(s) where the underlying cause of their offending is related primarily to mental impairment issues and/or illicit substance dependence.

The twelve month stream is targeted at defendants who are facing a likely penalty of a term of imprisonment and whose offending is link to illicit substance dependence where a more intensive intervention program is required.

Six Month Streams

Programs differ depending on the type of six month stream that the defendant is participating in.

Six month substance dependency stream

This stream involves the following program of treatment and intervention:

  • Release on bail;
  • Supervised drug screening tests at least twice a week for the first two months of the program, and then at least once a week for the remaining four months;
  • Attendance at court fortnightly for the first two months of the program, and then monthly for the remaining four months;
  • Weekly or fortnightly contact with a Program Supervisor;
  • Referral where appropriate to a drug treatment service or specific program.

Six month mental impairment stream

This stream involves the following program of treatment and intervention:

  • Release on bail;
  • Attendance at court bi-monthly;
  • Contact with a Case Manager to arrange access to mental health and/or disability services;
  • Support to attend treatment appointments;
  • Support from a Case Manager to address any psycho-social issues such as housing, debt, relationships;
  • Reports are made to the court of the defendant's attendance at and participation in any treatment options.

Six month co-morbidity stream

This stream involves a more intensive program that address both mental impairment and substance dependence issues:

  • Release on bail;
  • Supervised drug screening tests at least twice a week for the first two months of the program, and then at least once a week for the remaining four months;
  • Attendance at court fortnightly for the first two months of the program, and then monthly for the remaining four months;
  • Weekly or fortnightly contact with a Program Supervisor;
  • Referral where appropriate to a drug treatment service and/or mental health treatment service.

 

Twelve month stream

The twelve month stream within the Treatment Intervention Court replaced the former Drug Court Program. It is often still referred to as the Drug Court Program.

This stream is only available at the Adelaide Magistrates Court and involves the following intensive program of treatment and intervention:

  • Release on home detention bail with electronic monitoring for the first three months of the program, then bail reduced to night curfew for the remaining months;
  • Supervised drug screening tests at least three times a week for the first three months of the program, then at least twice a week for the next six months. For the final three months, drug testing is random. A defendant can have their drug screening test results confirmed by laboratory analysis- this will incur a fee;
  • Attendance at court every fortnight for the first three months of the program, and then monthly for the remaining months;
  • Participation in specialised individual and group treatment programs especially designed to address the nexus between drug use and offending;
  • The development of a tailored case management plan tailored to the defendant's needs.

The 12 month program operates on a points system, where points are incurred for minor non-compliance and a Magistrate has the ability to apply sanctions for non-compliance, which could include bail revocation or a imposing a period of incarceration where the non-compliance is severe. The points system allows for a defendant's progress to be tracked and allows for an assessment of whether they have successfully completed the program.

Referral process

Criminal matters can be diverted to the Treatment Intervention Court list from the general list for an application for assessment for participation in an intervention program. Guilty pleas must be entered to the majority of criminal matters before the court. Disputed matters must remain in the court of origin until they resolve (by plea or a finding of guilt) and may later join all other matters listed in the Treatment Intervention Court.

Where a defendant's offending warrants a referral to the 12 month substance dependency stream, they will be referred to the Adelaide Magistrates Court (Treatment Intervention Court) list for assessment as to eligibility to participate in the stream.

Referral to Treatment Intervention Court Solicitors

The Commission employs dedicated solicitors who work in the Treatment Intervention Court, and who can represent defendants at an early stage, even before their matters are ready to be diverted into the Treatment Intervention Court. Should a duty solicitor become aware of an unrepresented defendant who wants to apply for participation in the Treatment Intervention Court, or who has had matters recently diverted to the Treatment Intervention Court, it is important that they notify the dedicated solicitors. Where a defendant is granted bail, it is important that the duty solicitor advise him or her to lodge an application for legal aid as soon as possible and to include a note that they wish to apply for the Treatment Intervention Court. Where a defendant is refused bail, it is important that the duty solicitor clearly mark the “urgent in custody” application at the top with “possible Treatment Intervention Court applicant” or “Treatment Intervention Court” where the matters are already diverted. The file will then be assigned to the Treatment Intervention Court solicitors.

Eligibility criteria

The Treatment Intervention Court streams are available to defendants who have entered guilty pleas to the majority of offences or, in the case of those defendants with mental impairment, an admission that the factual elements of the charge are not contested and who are assessed as requiring an intervention by way of addressing illicit drug use, mental health problems, or both.

To be eligible to participate in the twelve month substance dependency stream, a defendant must also:

  • be aged 18 years or over;
  • be charged with a minor indictable and/or summary offence(s) that is related to their substance dependency and for which they are likely to be imprisoned;
  • reside in the boundaries of the Adelaide Metropolitan area so as to allow for electronic monitoring while on home detention bail to occur;
  • have a current or previous dependency on illicit substance(s);
  • have a willingness to participate in the intervention program; and
  • be willing to plead guilty to the most serious offence for which they have been charged and to the majority of offences;

A person charged with a major indictable offence is not eligible to participate in any stream offered by the Treatment Intervention Court.

Even where the Preliminary Assessment Report indicates that the defendant is not recommended€ for a Treatment Intervention Court program, the court may still be persuaded by defence submissions that there are good grounds for allowing the defendant to participate. For example, a history of offences demonstrating a propensity for violence may not necessarily mean that a defendant would be precluded, and it would still be a matter for the court's discretion when considering an application on behalf of a defendant whose main drug of dependence was alcohol.

Breach of District Court bonds

The Treatment Intervention Court will consider applications by defendants who have breach of bond matters before higher courts.

Parole Board warrants

The Treatment Intervention Court has an arrangement with the Parole Board and is able to accept applications from defendants who are currently in custody on parole board warrants.

Former Treatment Intervention Court participants

The Treatment Intervention Court will consider applications by defendants who have previously participated in a program where they have relapsed and have a fresh criminal offence(s). The court will not accept applications from former participants where the offending breaches a previous Treatment Intervention Court suspended sentence bond.

Assessment and acceptance

Once it is determined that a defendant meets the eligibility requirements for participation in a Treatment Intervention Court stream, an assessment report will be ordered by the court. Where a defendant is eligible to participate in the 12 month substance tendency stream, a home detention report will also be ordered.

The assessment includes a recommendation as to whether the applicant is suitable for an intervention, an assessment of illicit drug use and/or mental impairment (which may also require a detailed psychological report) and which intervention stream would best address the intervention needs of the applicant. In addition, an individual case plan is designed to address individual needs.

If a defendant is not recommended for the program, the matter is usually returned to the court of origin for sentencing. The Magistrate sitting in the Treatment Intervention Court has discretion to hear submissions by the defendant and prosecution in relation to the assessment report, and may accept a defendant into the program regardless of the recommendation.

Home detention bail requirements for 12 month stream

All participants accepted into the twelve month stream are subjected to home detention bail with electronic monitoring for the first phase of the program. Defendants participating in the program may only leave their residence with the permission of their Program Supervisor for approved activities. Home detention is monitored to the minute, with all breaches of bail (however minor) being reported to the Treatment Intervention Court Magistrate.

Progress reports

Progress reports are provided to the Magistrate for each court appearance and outline progress, success and any difficulties or set-backs faced by the defendant for each review period. At each progress review, the Magistrate will discuss breaches of bail conditions, drug use and any other issues directly with the defendant. Failure to make positive progress on the program, ongoing breaches of conditions, and re-offending may lead to the termination of the defendant’s participation in the program. Relapses into drug use may result in an immediate return to custody for a period of stabilisation. The court also has discretion to extend the defendant’s participation in the program beyond the usual six months where the defendant may benefit from a longer period of participation.

Progress summary report and sentencing considerations

At the end of the defendant’s participation in the program, the court is provided with a report summarising the defendant’s progress and achievements during the course of the program. The report will also provide a summary as to whether or not progress has been satisfactory. This report is taken into consideration when the defendant is subsequently sentenced by the court.

Completion of program

To achieve successful completion of a treatment program of the Treatment Intervention Court, a defendant must:

  • have no fresh charges laid during the program period;
  • have attended and engaged in all aspects of the treatment plan;
  • have demonstrated a willingness and ability to significantly reduce their substance use. Multiple failed drug screening tests may demonstrate an unwillingess to reduce substance use.

Persistent non-compliance with the requirements of the program may result in a recommendation that participation in the program cease.

As the twelve month stream involves the incursion of points for non-compliance with program requirements, an overview can be obtained of whether the defendant has complied with the requirements of the program.

Port Adelaide Nunga Court Program

A specialised 6 month treatment intervention program operates in the Port Adelaide Nunga Court. Eligible defendants may defer sentencing for a period of 6 months to enable their participation in the program.

More information on the Treatment Intervention Court can be located via the Courts Administration Authority - Treatment Intervention Court website.

Treatment Intervention Court  :  Last Revised: Wed May 1st 2019