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Therapeutic Courts Information

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About the Therapeutic Courts

Therapeutic Model for these Courts

The therapeutic model is not an “easy way out” of a felony or misdemeanor, but an alternative justice model in which a collaborative court team made up of a supervising judge, district attorney, defense counsel, probation officer and/or substance abuse or mental health treatment provider, oversees and closely monitors participants who chose the treatment program in lieu of incarceration.

1. The Court Team may include:
  • Judge
  • Prosecuting attorney
  • Defense attorney
  • Substance abuse and/or mental health treatment provider
  • Law enforcement officer such as Probation Officer, or
  • Case manager/ case coordinator
  • Guardian ad litem for Child in Need of Aid (CINA) Therapeutic Court (CTC)
  • Project coordinator or manager
2. Eligible participants:
  • May be admitted to a therapeutic court if they meet the eligibility standards of each court and the substance abuse or mental health treatment criteria of the provider
  • Can voluntarily “opt in” to a therapeutic court
  • Enter a plea of “no contest” or “guilty”
  • Participate in a structured program and plan
  • For the duration of their participation in the program, have their sentencing deferred
  • In the case of the CTC, the parent's agree to the allegations of abuse and/or neglect in order to “opt in”

When individuals are accepted into a therapeutic court, participants are required to attend court status hearings weekly, bi-monthly or monthly depending on their stage in the program. The Court Team meets weekly to review their progress, and to suggest incentives or sanctions that may best encourage the participants’ success. Although the details may vary within each of the therapeutic courts, the basic structure is the same:

  • A team approach to supervise and encourage a participant’s progress
  • A system of sanctions and incentives for performance in the program
  • Upon successful completion of the program, participants’ sentences are imposed according to the initially negotiated agreements
  • In the case of the CTC, when children are reunited with their parent(s) or parental rights are relinquished, and the case is closed with the Office of Children’s Services
  • Participants who are unable or unwilling to complete the program are dismissed, and their sentence is immediately imposed
  • Participants who are unable or unwilling to complete the program are dismissed and the sentence that was negotiated at the time of admission to the court is immediately imposed

For information contact the Therapeutic Courts Program Coordinator, Michelle Bartley at (907) 264-8250.

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Mental Health Courts - Coordinated Resources Project (CRP)

Family Courts

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