Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, in the Arizona Supreme Court’s Strategic Agenda, urges courts to address cases which are the result of underlying social problems such as; homelessness, veterans’ issues, mental illness, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. Treatment Courts and specialty calendars fulfill Justice Brutinel's mandate through continuous identification of best practice for restorative justice programs and opportunities to expand access to such programs in courthouses and communities.
"Luis" and the Juvenile Transfer Offender Program (JTOP)
“Luis” is a 20-year-old participant in the Juvenile Transfer Offender Program (JTOP). He entered the program with few skills that promoted positive behavior. He and his Probation Officer worked together to ensure that Luis used treatment services to enhance his prosocial skills and decision-making. “Luis” graduated three different treatment programs and is progressing through the phases of the JTOP program. He recently became a father. To reward his progress, he was given gift cards to assist with ensuring he and his girlfriend were prepared for the birth of their son. With the cards he was able to purchase much needed supplies, clothing and diapers to prepare for the birth. “Luis” was thankful for the gift cards and was happy to use them to prepare for his life changing event.
Art and Mental Health Court
Friends of the Court has assisted Mental Health Court, Veterans Court, and Family Treatment Court in providing art supplies and funds for art supplies for our CANVAS program. One story from Mental Health Court stands out in particular. One participant was struggling with addiction and was living in her car for months. She expressed an interest in art and in the CANVAS program and was provided art supplies. Despite being homeless, this participant created art and proudly displayed her creations in court, where she received praise and encouragement. This activity gave her such joy and inspiration that she created art for almost every court hearing, sometimes creating 3 or 4 pieces at a time. She continued to do this, despite living in her vehicle and struggling with all that entailed.
Her artwork consisted of pencil sketches that included her own inspirational messages, journaling her battle with addiction and illness. Her pieces were amazing and continue to be a part of the Court's traveling art gallery. It is very difficult to be successful on mental health probation and very difficult to successfully graduate from Mental Health Court, especially when homeless and struggling with addiction. Despite these challenges, this participant worked on her sobriety, achieved stability, graduated from Mental Health Court, and was successfully released from probation. When she graduated, the Court presented her with a bound portfolio of all of the work that she created through the CANVAS program. It was an amazing accomplishment for her and everyone in the courtroom shared their pride and applause.
Shayna M. and Drug Court
“Having an alumni group is important. When I was in jail, all I heard were negative things, like Drug Court was set up for failure. I learned through experience that it wasn’t,” said Shayna M., a 2019 Drug Court graduate. “At the events, I get to see how people are doing that I went through this with, but there’s also a lot of new people who I don’t know and can offer my support to. It’s a great way to keep in contact with everyone.”
Judges take a hands-on approach to address problems and change behaviors of program participants. Ongoing judicial interaction with each individual is essential for the success of the participant and for the program.
By forging partnerships with public agencies, and community-based organizations to achieve certain goals, Treatment Courts generate local support that enhance their own effectiveness. Partnerships are being developed with mental health providers, the Veteran's Administration, child welfare agencies and community substance abuse treatment organizations.
Treatment Courts use a non-adversarial approach. Prosecution, defense counsel, and other program partners take on roles and processes not common for traditional courts, in order to promote public safety while protecting participants' due process rights.
Treatment Courts use screening and assessment tools to identify appropriate individuals for programs. Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed into treatment programs.
Treatment Courts provide a continuum of alcohol, drug, and related treatment services. Required abstinence, monitored through ongoing supervision and testing promotes participant accountability.
Treatment Court use a strategic approach of incentives and sanctions for guiding participants away from non-compliance and toward success.