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Anchorage Wellness Felony DUI Court

What is the Anchorage Wellness Felony DUI Court?

The Anchorage Felony DUI Court helps felony defendants who want to overcome serious problems with (or addiction to) alcohol and who want to achieve lifetime sobriety. The Wellness Court is a jail diversion program, offering intensive substance abuse treatment and community supervision to support the participant’s abstinence and recovery. Entry into the program is not automatic. Each request to participate is reviewed on a case by case basis and only a limited number of slots are available at any time.

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What are the benefits?

  • Swift substance abuse assessment and treatment
  • Reduced jail time and fines
  • If eligible, financial assistance to secure housing and
  • Assistance in securing employment or job training

The principal benefits of completing the Anchorage Felony DUI program are achieving sobriety, reducing fines and avoiding incarceration. Graduates receive a reduced sentence minimizing jail time and fines on their current case.

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Who is eligible?

A defendant is eligible to be considered for the Wellness Felony DUI Court if the defendant is:

  • Charged with a felony DUI or felony refusal; and
  • Assessed by an approved treatment provider as meeting the criteria for intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment

It is important to remember that there are only a limited number of openings. The District Attorney provides the initial approval of candidates and the Wellness Court team approves each participant for participation after their initial assessment.

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How does the Anchorage Wellness Felony DUI Court work?

The Felony DUI Wellness Court is an 18-month program that requires commitment, strength, honesty, and persistence. Once a defendant has successfully opted-in to the court program the defendant is required to:

  • Enter intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment with an approved treatment provider
  • Agree to be medically evaluated for the appropriateness of a medicine that stops cravings for alcohol (if indicated)
  • Attend recovery support groups i.e. AA, NA or Na Tia Su Kan
  • Appear regularly before the Wellness Court judge for compliance hearings
  • Work or attend school a minimum of 16 hours a week
  • Undergo regular alcohol and other drug testing
  • Maintain sobriety
  • Attend MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy)
  • Follow through with mental health services (if recommended)
  • Pay program fees, the MRT course book, some drug testing.

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How do defendants get referred into the program?

Please keep in mind that admission into the Anchorage Felony DUI Court is not automatic. The process for application to the program is as follows:

  • The defendant indicates interest in Wellness Court by having his or her defense attorney contact the District Attorney to seek initial approval for the case to be considered
  • The prosecuting attorney decides whether to make a Criminal Rule 11 offer which incorporates Wellness Court as a sentencing alternative
  • The defendant observes the Wellness Court in session at least twice prior to committing to the program by initially opting in
  • The defendant completes a substance abuse assessment to determine eligibility for intensive substance abuse outpatient treatment. The Wellness Court Team must agree on the defendants admission into the program
  • The defendant accepts the Criminal Rule 11 offer
  • The Wellness Court judge approves the Rule 11 agreement
  • The defendant enters a plea of guilty, and the defendant begins to follow the Wellness Court treatment plan

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Contact/Court Information

For program information, contact the Anchorage Wellness Project Manager at (907) 264-0892.

The Anchorage Wellness Felony DUI Court generally meets on Monday at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 502, Nesbett Courthouse, 825 W. 4th Ave. Judges Catherine Easter and Alex Swiderski preside. The public is invited to attend. If you are interested in observing court, please call to confirm that court in being held on its regularly scheduled day. The number to call is (907) 264-0892.

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