May is National Drug Court Month. Pierce County Superior Court and community treatment agencies partner together on four separate Therapeutic Court programs to provide treatment to individuals with substance use disorders and mental health issues. Judge Elizabeth Martin currently presides over the Felony Drug Court and Family Recovery Court. Judge Frank Cuthbertson currently presides over the Felony Mental Health Court and the Assisted Outpatient Behavioral Health Treatment Court program.
Pierce County Superior Court is proud to have two separate programs to address substance use disorders. Felony Drug Court began in 1994 to provide treatment services to individuals with substance use disorders who have a current non-violent felony charge. We will celebrate 25 years of service to our community later this year. Our therapeutic affiliate, Pierce County Alliance, provides a comprehensive, 12-month(minimum) substance use treatment and counseling program to qualified defendants to live healthy, drug-free lives. Successful graduates on a pre-disposition entry will have their felony charge dismissed, and those entering post-disposition will avoid a prison or jail sentence. Felony Drug Court currently consists of over 180 participants. The program has had over 1800 individuals graduate since its inception. The Pierce County Superior Court Felony Drug Court is proud to partner with Pierce County Alliance, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Department of Assigned Counsel to provide innovative treatment, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and treatment therapy groups for defendants in jail. Pierce County Alliance and Pierce County Superior Court were recently awarded a $2,000,000, five-year grant from SAMHSA for treatment services aimed at providing medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders and for treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders.
Pierce County Superior Court along with Pierce County Alliance began Family Recovery Court in 1999. The program has grown over the years and currently has nearly 50 participants and over 400 graduates. Pierce County Alliance provides a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment program and counseling services to parents who have an open dependency case to achieve long-term, sustained recovery with the goal of eventual reunification with their children. The program includes not only access to treatment for the parent, including medication-assisted treatment and mental health services, but also provides visitation supervision and assistance, family therapy services and housing referrals. A new program has recently been implemented with the Superior Court and Pierce County Alliance to provide treatment services in non-parental custody cases for parents with substance use disorders to obtain reunification with their children. The first parents were accepted into the program in April 2019.
In 2015, Pierce County Superior Court received funding from Optum to implement Felony Mental Health Court and serve 40 participants. In 2017, the program expanded to serve 80 participants. Treatment is provided by Greater Lakes Mental Health Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Team. The team provides 24/7 mental health treatment for defendants who have a felony charge, are amenable to treatment and are approved by the Prosecutor’s Office. The program is a minimum of 18 months and is court supervised. If successful in the program, felony charges can be dismissed and defendants with mental health issues are connected to long-term mental health treatment to maintain stability in the community. The program currently serves 62 participants and has had 37 graduates.
In 2018, Superior Court received funding through Optum to implement a new civil court, Assisted Outpatient Behavioral Health Treatment Court program. The program is a 90-day program that provides an Assertive Community Treatment team through Comprehensive Life Resources for individuals with a severe mental health diagnosis who are at risk for hospitalization. Since its inception, the program has had five participants graduate from the program.
Pierce County Superior Court along with community treatment agencies are striving for the betterment of the community by diverting individuals from jail and prison, reuniting parents and children and improving community mental health by providing therapeutic resources with access to treatment services. We believe passionately that these programs are saving lives and families for those who participate in our Therapeutic Courts.