Fairbanks Wellness Court (FWC)
What is the Fairbanks Wellness Court?
The FWC helps felony DUI defendants who want to overcome serious problems with (or addiction to) alcohol and who want to achieve lifetime sobriety. The FWC is a jail diversion program, offering intensive substance abuse treatment and community supervision to support the participant’s abstinence and recovery.
What are the benefits?
The principal benefits of completing the FWC program are achieving sobriety and avoiding incarceration. Graduates receive a reduced sentence minimizing jail time and fines on their current case.
Who is eligible?
An individual is eligible to apply to the FWC if:
- He/she is currently charged with a felony DUI or Refusal
- He/she is currently charged with a misdemeanor DUI or Refusal that is attached to a non-violent class C Felony
- He/she is 18-years-old or older
- The situs of the alleged crime was within the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Alaska
- His/her date of offense was 4 months or less from the date the FWC application is submitted
An individual is not eligible to apply to the FWC if:
- He/she is currently charged with an unclassified felony, a class A felony, an offense under AS 11.41.130, or an offense under AS 11.41.410-11.41.470, or he/she is currently charged with violating probation for one of those offenses
- He/she has an outstanding felony warrant and detainer from another state
- His/her date of offense was more than 4 months prior to the date the FWC application is submitted
How does the Fairbanks Wellness Court work?
The FWC uses a non-adversarial, Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) approach in which all parties step out of their traditional roles and collaborate to promote public safety, while encouraging the successful substance abuse treatment of the offender. The MDT consists of the designated FWC Judges, Office of the District Attorney (DA) representative, Defense Counsel, ASAP Probation Officer (PO), Project Coordinator (PC), treatment providers and other persons as approved by the Judge.
The FWC is an 18-24 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 a treatment provider
- Take a medicine that stops cravings for alcohol (if medically appropriate)
- Attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other recovery meetings
- Appear regularly before the Wellness Court judge for compliance hearings
- Complete a minimum of 32 hours a week of work, school, or approved community work service
- Undergo regular alcohol and other drug testing
- Maintain sobriety
- Attend MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy)
- Follow through with mental health services (if recommended)
- Pay for the MRT course, some drug testing, and related program costs
How do defendants get referred into the program?
Please keep in mind that admission into the Wellness Court Treatment Program is not automatic and that the District Attorney, or their designee, reserves the right to deny the Applicant admission at any point throughout the application process. The FWC application process is as follows:
- A defendant interested in participating in the FWC should have his/her attorney contact the FWC Project Coordinator to request an application.
- The Project Coordinator distributes completed applications to the MDT members.
- The defendant is required to complete substance abuse assessment to determine eligibility for intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment; complete an interview with the FWC Probation Officer(PO) and observe FWC at least once.
- If the FWC Team agrees on the defendant’s admission into the FWC, the defendant’s attorney and the DA representative must negotiate a Criminal Rule 11 Plea Agreement.
- If the defendant accepts the Rule 11 agreement at their change of plea hearing then he/she is officially opted-in to the FWC and will be given directions on how to proceed with the PO and out-patient provider.
The Fairbanks Wellness Court generally meets on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. in the Rabinowitz Courthouse on 101 Lacey Street in courtroom 203 or 202. Judges Patrick Hammers and Matthew Christian preside and the public is invited to attend. If you are interested in observing FWC and would like to confirm the courtroom location for a particular week or if you need general program information, please contact the Fairbanks Wellness Court Project Coordinator at (907) 452-9307 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org