119: All Rise – Taking You to Drug Court (Sort Of)

What is drug court? We have on Ray, a drug court case manager to talk all about drug court. How does drug court work? Who qualifies for drug court? Is drug court mandatory? What is the point of drug court? What types of requirements are there once you get into drug court? How long is the program of drug court? Is drug court effective? While Ray can only speak for what he knows about the local drug court in a specific county, the information should be useful and comparable to drug courts nationwide. Have any questions about drug court? Listen in to be educated and form your own opinion about whether drug court is a valuable resource, a step in the right direction, or a complete waste of time. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who has never been to drug court and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and we’re here today with ray who is a drug court case manager in cecil county and obviously we’re we’re going to talk about drug court not uh you know dishonesty or well maybe we might be talking about dishonesty as well absolutely we’re we’re talking about drug court today if you haven’t caught on and i’m going to let billy take that away uh yeah so drug court that’s a thing that exists that i hear a lot about um it wasn’t around when i got clean in recovery it wasn’t an option at least here in cecil county um so i was curious to learn something about it i know ray has works for drug court and is someone we know in recovery so i figured we’d bring him in to ask him some questions and things about drug court so ray if you want to introduce yourself tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in drug court

my name is ray and i’m a person in long term recovery i’ve been on both sides of the fence i’ve been getting in trouble as long as i can remember

and i’ve been i moved here cecil county in 2015 and got clean when i moved here to cecil county i did the recovery house thing and i got into some dead-end jobs some restaurant jobs some construction jobs that i had no business doing

i was offered a job on the treatment side of things back in 2016 and from there it just kind of artificially happened just the placement i was placed at work taking over drug court meetings that the drug court job became available to me now the drug court job is kind of ironic because in 2004 i tried to plead out with my case to be sentenced to drug court and was denied drug court based on my charges so um i think we talk a lot about uh with anything recovery is possible seven years ago was i thinking man i can’t wait to get seven years clean so i can work at drug court absolutely not absolutely not but uh looking back back at it in retrospect it’s kind of phenomenal um for me anyway being with drug court and and helping people in that way yeah so tell me what is drug court exactly like what what’s it for and who ends up there sure so uh drug court is an alternative uh punishment to prison um generally generally state the state stuff has been going on like this for decades uh whether somebody gets sentenced to a year house arrest instead of a year in prison or whatever 5 000 hours community service instead of a week in jail whatever it may be something like this has always been happening definitely taking the week in jail five thousand hours of community service sounds like a [ __ ] ton

so what happens is uh people that are convicted of drug related or drug-induced crimes um and again that’s dictated by the team and by the court whether they’re clear to be sentenced and accepted into drug court or not but if somebody is arrested and the intent found at the end was that it was drug induced generally drug court can be an option if somebody um did a did a burglary here in cecil county um and you know stole stole from their uncle’s house took it to the pawn shop hocked it all got arrested and it was found that you know they uh were addicted to fentanyl or addicted methamphetamine or what not maybe drugs was one of the vehicles driving this crime then that’s a person eligible for drug court and what drug court is is a high intensity program so somebody gets sentenced from court basically they come meet with me after they do their intake and i give them a laundry list of things they have to do within the first 30 days much of it includes community service self-help groups like 12-step meetings as well as being enrolled in outpatient uh further down the line mandated that they get employment maintain employment that they continue doing community service and they could continue to do self-help groups as well as meet with me and appear in court on fridays are there other options besides 12-step groups to get i mean do you have to get a slip signed or something absolutely so um we’ve had people do mental health groups we’ve had people do uh celebrate recovery which i believe is still 12-step related right but as long as it’s self-help group related now um i’ve i’ve always been a 12-step person that’s what i know that’s what i recommend to people i don’t know where the hell anything else is i don’t know where you do anything else people find other [ _ ] on their own but i know aanna and i know where to go for the meetings so that’s where i refer to the people i feel like finding other stuff is probably more challenging sure like not as widely available yeah celebrate recovery is the uh the 12 commandment group same same thing christian version of 12 steps yeah but they have uh i guess smart’s a thing that’s starting to come around smart recovery which is supposed to be not 12 step based right that’s yeah it’s like cognitive behavioral therapy-based right well they you know i know a little bit about smart recovery now that i’m in drug court because people do smart recovery and everything i i read about it does try to institute the 12 steps in some way so from my understanding it does have to do with 12 steps or they refer back to the 12 step i don’t know if it’s supposed to be a definitive vehicle for anybody’s recovery i think it’s supposed to be more of a bridge recovery that’s my understanding i couldn’t i could be totally left field with that yeah i didn’t think that was how it worked at all i’m just pissed that drug court’s not more like traffic court like you know you get a fine because you had some drugs you go and try to make sure you don’t get points on your drug license look i’ll pay the fine just give me the points right i don’t want to lose my drug license to get my marijuana license later i can’t be having you right that sounds way cooler it was interesting also that you said that this was a alternative form of punishment that sounds brutal that’s not cool maybe alternative form of sentencing was a better better word if you had a drug charge is this a way will it keep the drug charge off your record or it will just keep you out of jail or it can be both i can’t definitively answer that people get sentenced differently okay um so some people get suspended sentence some people um the sentence is held until completion or discharge it’s a case-by-case basis but that has happened yes but some people it can still end up with those charges on your record depending on even if you completely depending on the charge in the circumstance absolutely okay and then is it the same for alcohol related cases do they qualify i mean we call it drug court but it’s alcohol qualified like if you get duis or you get yes you know driving related accident alcohol-related accident that’s so interesting that like i i feel like with your answer to the previous question about it all depends on the case i mean i get it case the case each one changes but it almost feels like there’s less maybe legal oversight in what the judge can do like almost like the judge gets more freedom to kind of play around with whatever they feel like they want to do sure so lately they’ve been reverting back it seems like to this pre-sentencing so if you were to be discharged from drug court unsuccessfully this is the sentence you’d be looking at that generally the sentence they hand out or the sentence the blueprint they give is a maximum sentence so like hey you’re backing up if you get discharged from drug court you’re backing up 12 years 12 years in prison as opposed to one year in drug court i mean to me or you it might sound you know like a very very easy decision but um it’s kind of laid out like that now in maryland the sentencing is weird like 12 years doesn’t definitively mean 12 years right absolutely time and all that other stuff and yeah time served i guess my fear would just be like when it goes on a case-by-case basis right and there’s not as much i mean i part of me likes that because not every situation is the same you know the guy who did this in one situation is definitely less harmful to society than the guy who did something else but at the same time the judge can be like oh uh that’s my old buddy’s son his charges will not be on his record when he completes drug court and oh that’s a minority that i don’t particularly like they’re just lazy his charges will definitely be on his record after he completes drug court it just leaves a little wiggle room for it i i can’t speak for anywhere else in cecil county they do that [ _ ] anyway in regular court it’s called like a probation before judgment or you know those kind of things so there’s always ways around judges getting stuff on your because that’s what i in my initial i had a probation before judgment and they gave me five years probation and then i never completed the probation so i got the sentence and the maximum amount of time to back it up which seemed like a worse like i should have just taken the sentence in the beginning because my sentence would have probably been less but since i took the probation before judgment they told me it would be the maximum sentence i could get which was mine was a possession of marijuana and i got a year in jail for a possession of marijuana which because they gave me this probation before judgment option it was like if you take this option you can get nothing on your record but if you violate which is what happened i you get all of it plus the year which didn’t work out for me as a drug addict yeah i ended up with a bunch of time on my probation before judgment that i did the same thing maybe i would have been better off too right so is drug court something people pick or is it like or do they just go your case is in drugs uh drug quarters 100 voluntary program oh okay um which really really works lately as you know this big surge of medical marijuana and prescription amphetamines and stuff we don’t allow any of that in the drug court so if somebody’s in jail and they want drug court and they have these things you know okay you can come in a drug corp you have to drop these things it’s completely voluntary you can’t be on a maintenance or really drug court is absent in space abstinence-based with uh with the at least for right now with medical cannabis and amphetamine based oh at least in cecil county not so much like buprenorphine or not so much people morphine okay okay i was gonna say damn that’s [ _ ] up they’re not even following the [ _ ] science i was always told that like drug court was a thing you know i’m from baltimore and and we just looked it up it’s been around since 94. i didn’t know that long but i remember people talking about drug court when i was getting charges and going to court and i was always like well why the [ _ ] am i not in drug court that sounds like where i need to be but i never was and i was always disappointed but everything i’ve heard since then i kind of i’m like oh maybe that’s a good thing i never ended up there that sounds pretty vicious and i mean generally uh that’s that’s also the census i got um even being in jail and waiting please let me out and let me go to drug court just let me out of here i always heard from other people drug courts are set up um well if you’re going to keep using yeah if you’re going to confuse and keep using it if you’re going to keep i mean that’s that’s not the only advice if you’re going to keep using and continue to do criminal behavior it might be a setup for you and it might not be for you you know kind of a fair point but with my hope is with people like me working in drug court people like me and my co-workers i have amazing coworkers is that we’re actually in it for the right we want to help people at least that’s all i want to do i just want to help people i want to see that glow in their eyes after a year i want to see them engulfed in 12-step recovery or whatever they find i want to see them get their family back get their lives back get a good job i want to see these people succeed i mean going back to me i mean at one point in life there wasn’t a person on this earth that thought i could do anything else but use drugs and commit crimes um so being at where i am to have people saying to me now i can’t imagine you living like that that’s a total you know flip the script and i believe everybody’s capable of that 100 percent if the way i was thinking the things i was doing when i was 18 25 years old and what i’m doing like now is any testament then i believe anybody can do it that was beautiful yeah i know it was so emotional i wanted to make a joke and i’m like [ _ ] that was so it was so nice no i think yeah there was a time when people thought the only thing i would ever do would be use drugs and and break the law like that was the only thing i was capable of and i wasn’t even good at either of those it was just the worst part it’s like [ _ ] i’m not even good at the only thing i do um so you mentioned that people that do crimes i guess related to drug like breaking and entering or theft or whatever those people can get drug court as well it’s not just drug related crimes um maybe i’m burying myself in a hole here but i don’t want to speak outside my pay grade but but for my understanding um it gets a we have a coordinator in the program and the cases come across her desk um and it’s decided you know after bringing it to the team bringing it to us decided if if the drugs were enough vehicle for it to be deemed necessary for a drug court whether they accept it or not from my understanding is it all crime drug related a lot of it is well so at least for myself from like what i understand of like the harm reduction point of view and all that like so all my charges that i was ever charged with are drug related charges i have no violent crimes i have no like breaking and enterings no theft no none of that stuff but yet i’m a convicted and have this record of possessions and things like that to me like that always maybe this is me justifying my [ _ ] behaviors but it like it was always like well that’s different than someone who’s out robbing stores or stealing breaking into houses and [ _ ] like that’s still crime and it seems like if you’re committing crimes i mean at least my opinion like it shouldn’t really necessarily matter why you know like like i feel like to say that i went in and stole from this person because i’m a drug out is a cop out like it makes drug addicts look bad like not all drug addicts are [ _ ] thieves like that’s not wow this is where you should be lying instead of telling the truth no really yeah well it’s gets back to like i think it’s consequences of behavior like sure if if your cons if you’re out doing illegal things in order to get and use drugs like that’s different than just using drugs but what do you want our criminal system to be about punishment or rehabilitation um well i think the happy medium is both i mean i i think there should be consequences for actions of behavior and just like if someone goes out and rapes my child i don’t give a [ _ ] if that guy gets rehabilitated he needs some consequences for that [ _ ] oh i feel like rehabilitation is a consequence like hasn’t it been a painful experience to recover oh has it been a painful experience yeah you don’t think the pain of like the self-awareness of realizing you were a piece of [ _ ] and the things you’ve done to people and like all that’s painful sure but that’s self inflicted yeah i don’t know i don’t know if i need to inflict pain on other people to prove a point like i don’t know what point i proved by consequences i want people it’s not necessarily proven a point but like let’s say i decide okay i’m gonna go out and play football every sunday and then three years from now i got bum knees well that’s a [ _ ] consequence of playing football you know it’s like sure that’s i don’t want to take too far off the mark here but but i do want to ask this okay i like your theory sure you can have that theory i don’t you know you don’t have to ascribe to my theory that’s fine but we know that punishment doesn’t work like it’s not working everybody goes back to prison the recidivism rate is ridiculous right so we know that way does not work so punishing people doesn’t actually stop them from coming home and doing it to somebody else so maybe we should think about not worrying about consequences and worrying about trying to rehabilitate people maybe that might work better we don’t know but we know our way doesn’t work so whether it’s they did these crimes for drugs or not maybe our whole system probably should be overhauled to like how can we help this person get better and not do it again instead of pay the penalty so i agree 100 that consequences in and of themselves don’t work but there can be like consequences with rehabilitation like they don’t have to be independent of each other like those two things can be together like you did this crime so here’s your sentence and then here’s some rehabilitation to go along with that for example when i was in jail they let me go to rehab why i was in jail as part of my jail sentence i got to go to rehab that was great i mean i didn’t stay clean after that i just went because it was [ _ ] better than jail but the idea was you know i still had consequences for my actions but recovery could be a part of that as well like i don’t think they need to be independent of each other and maybe not but that’s where i think the point of drug court is right like let’s try to get these people more towards a focus of some kind of rehabilitation because obviously drugs are the problem that’s going on with them not breaking in people’s houses and that’s why i think if we limit who can go to drug court just based on drug charges well now you’re taking the people who would have never broken into someone’s house or never rob somebody and you’re excluding them from this part of the rehabilitation process because you’re like oh nope that was an actual crime that wasn’t a drug possession well yeah but they only did it because of the drugs yeah and i guess that would be maybe more of a fine line guys there’s a fine line somewhere that nobody can clearly see obviously right so i will say drug court at least in cecil county we don’t take any violent criminals no no robberies no rapes no murders no assaults um it’s all non-violent related charges now believe it or not that margin is is is is huge like there’s a lot of people in prison for violent crimes a lot of people and the prisons will still say stay full as long as they’re not offering rehabilitation for violent rapists you know outside of prison the prisons are going to stay full um and the prisons are full right now okay drug court programs are popping up counting the counties are still popping up i think uh what’s um what’s centerville and what county’s at where the [ _ ] is centerville maryland i’m not sure which county though well they’re just launching their drug court this so it’s still happening yeah it’s still uh there’s new drug courts just for one and it’s just the census in jail has never been higher continues to escalate more and more people are doing long terms and at the end of the day there is more and more people in prison for drug crimes that may need just a little life you know people that are in jail for uh possession of three and a half grams of cocaine doing you know three-year sentences on that you know where all they did was all they had was a daily co-cap that probably started in a quarter gram a day right you know and this is where it’s got them and now they’re sitting in prison just meeting other criminals uh jefferson other plans to get out and do whatever they were doing again but do it smarter so they’re not going to go to jail this time right you know i’m probably hurting thousands of more people in the crossfire yeah well that was my concern with asking if it kept you know this off the drug charges off of people’s records is that seems to be what i don’t want to say causes recidivism but that’s a big contributor to recidivism is once you get in the system then you have a record then getting a job gets sure a bit more difficult you know you’re introduced to criminals and and that sort of almost becomes your identity because now you have this record and now you know it’s it’s impeding your life and your ability to do other things you know so having a vehicle to help keep that off of people’s records is gonna make them hopefully less likely to go back and do it again and and again the general census it doesn’t necessarily keep anything off anybody’s records right right now they’re kind of switching to the at least the cecil county again to um uh pre-sentencing so they’re pre-sentenced before going into drug court so they know what they’re facing if they violate drug court gotcha centerville is in queen anne’s county by the way oh okay so that’s interesting we talk about sometimes that we think at least a large portion of the solution to substance use problem is connection and yet if we talk about this idea of consequences for the crimes you’ve committed you’re being put into a population to reconnect to the world because you know substance use is very isolating but you’re connecting to a lot of other people that aren’t doing the right thing so i guess that would be another thing for me to say well why do we want people to have these consequences like we’re just sending them into a population to connect to more people who are not being rehabilitated like now you’ve got a whole network of people that don’t want to rehabilitate or or have better ideas about how to get better at crime like you were saying well maybe i’ll ask this as a question of drug court and this may help satisfy kind of this whole thing a little bit so do they have like uh what do you call it like restitution and things like that as a part of drug court like is that absolutely any any any institutions or fines that you owe for whatever um is is it a lot of these people they still see a probation officer um they still everything’s the same except for the drug court program so if they owe any fines or cost of restitution of course all that has to be right so if you went out and broke into your uncle’s house and stole 500 worth of [ __ ] then that might be part of your restitution is you have to pay them back for that sure money which to me is a consequence for that behavior you’re not just letting them off the hook absolutely but you know it isn’t necessarily incarceration okay yeah with that so i’m not yeah i’m not necessarily thinking everybody that does a crime should be thrown in jail that’s probably 100 the opposite but there’s i feel like we i don’t know i i mean maybe it’s because i raise kids like there should be consequences to bad behavior yeah i mean we also it’s hard we also obviously we can’t control what people do 22 hours out of the day because we’re only working with them a certain many hours a day or 23 hours rather but we don’t encourage clients to mingle with each other especially early clients giving each other rides to and from drug tests working at the same place running back and forth we don’t encourage that um generally um with branching out and going to 12-step fellowships or whatever meetings they want to branch out to um we kind of do that singular like we’re not saying oh you 12 people go here you 20 people go here you know what i mean it’s a good definitely a case-by-case basis now do those people intertwine hopefully hopefully they’re all doing enough right things for the intertwine enough in the recovery community that they see each other at a meeting or something but hopefully at least at the beginning they’re not giving each other rides to that meeting or giving each other a ride yeah two dead batteries don’t make a spark yeah what percentage of people go to 12-step versus anywhere else see it’s kind of been it’s kind of been muted lately right because since since we have uh the coveted stuff i can say covert right sure okay since we had to cover stuff we’re not coveting since we had to covet stuff there’s a lot of virtual stuff out there right so um there’s there’s a lot of these great apps great utilization that was great for when we were shut down you know but in turn a lot of that person-to-person interaction has kind of been muted or lost right so a lot of people unfortunately have fell back on that unfortunately for us at this point anyway fell back on the virtual meetings and you know up until this point we can’t deny somebody a virtual meeting you know i encourage in-person meetings to answer your question i’d say about 80 to 90 is 12 step related but a lot of it again is is virtual zoom meetings not discredit those meetings there’s great stuff to say to those meetings but in my opinion nothing beats the person-to-person interaction of 12-step fellowship yeah i didn’t even think about that how are they virtually signing slips um so i’m not going to name drop a certain apple in here but uh there’s a certain app out there that utilizes uh naa fellowship meetings and what you do is you attend it and you request a request attendance slip and you get that forwarded to your inbox and then i sign into their account and i can see how exactly what time they signed in what time they signed out is that only 12-step meetings on that app there’s it’s generally 12-step fellowship yeah yeah it’s just one of my pet peeves is that i feel like the 12-step world is the default absolutely and the go-to and i’m not necessarily sure that’s the greatest thing sure and and for everyone definitely yeah i kind of i don’t know i just try to make that argument on here absolutely billy argue about it absolutely but i mean you guys are familiar with cecil county there there’s i mean we’re getting somewhere uh we started smart recovery here in cecil county recently again right um voice of hope is doing great things here in the county recovery dharma you can do jenny at recovery dharma never heard of it yeah but uh it’s buddhism yeah it’s a buddhist based recovery practice awesome yeah awesome i have meetings at voices as well on thursdays yeah perfect um if if more meaning slips come across my desk with more um solution-based meaning programs or groups come across my desk i’ll be happy to refer anywhere to whatever works i know 12 steps because that’s what i’ve done and it’s my default reference like hey i want you to check out this meeting tonight get a little life in you tonight you know um i haven’t seen a lot of other stuff outside of 12-step fellowship come across my desk except for mental health based meetings and where are they at uh mainly online mainly virtual um i know there’s a couple um or there’s at least one agency here in the county that offers it really yeah um but yeah so does drug court still make or have people get slip signed at meetings as a person that goes to meetings i just don’t seem to see that as much anymore yes well we have a group attendance sheet uh which may speak to how many people are actually going to in-person meetings right but but yeah we do have in-person meeting slips that need signed okay um uh you know and that’s and that’s the thing i know people regardless of where you’re coming from i lived in recovery houses where you had to get meetings flip side and you never felt like a popular kid when you were doing it right you never felt good about going up there at the beginning and waiting till everybody left to get it back from the guy up front it almost made it feel like at least to me i felt like i was showing everybody else that i had to be here not that i wanted to be here you know what i mean you’re in detention yeah so it’d be nice to get to some point where we wouldn’t have to utilize something like that and with the online stuff we don’t um but unfortunately you know we have to keep these people accountable you know sort of tracking app on your phone just like this a little bit more well your phone was at this destination for an hour right people just ditching their phones hey jason will you take my phone to the meeting that’s funny this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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so what other things does drug court have as possible consequences or sen alternative sentencing as you say like can they sentence you to treatment can they send you to detox i don’t like to use the word sentencing uh we can refer to treatment uh refer to inpatients um refer to a higher level of care of course all that is deemed by the clinical staff but wherever they’re being seen as somebody comes to us and they’re an iop and they’re continuously using fentanyl i can reach out to that clinical staff and be like hey guys this guy’s about to die i want to send him inpatient right and if it’s deemed clinically necessary they will refer that and i’ll back the referral so i’ve heard of this situation happen and i don’t know how frequently this happens this was from somebody who has done a lot of drug counseling in cecil county and they were saying that because of the way drug court works sometimes people who maybe neces didn’t necessarily have drug problems per se such as maybe they weren’t actually hooked on opioids right maybe this is somebody who like smokes weed and and did get into a life of crime but they end up in the drug court system somehow right and then what happens is they don’t really need treatment per se because that’s not really their problem right but they get sentenced and treatment is part of that sentencing and then what happens is they go to treatment and the treatment provider ends up lying to the insurance company that they need treatment because they’re sentenced there they have to right and it becomes like kind of a scam almost it’s like i can’t i think right because they were sentenced to do this treatment that they don’t need but now the insurance company is paying for treatment like i know that’s a little complex but sure i just i was told that you know that the person who was a drug counselor in cesar county i kind of had an issue with some of the drug court operations because of things like that that don’t make any sense uh something like that has never came across my desk or in front of me everybody i deal with uh is very um very obviously self-recognizing they’re very obviously dependent on um of substances or have been um of course what you’re diving into is a whole pool of fraud and all that and his conspiracy theories and i’m sure some of it exists out there right i’m sure it exists everywhere i’ve heard i’ve heard of people coming out of florida saying that kind of stuff happens here all the time well i’d be interested to talk that my dad had a similar i’m going to say similar i don’t know if he ever was in drug court but he a few years back got a dui you know he was at a work thing and came home drinking and i think he hit a car and you know so he got a dui and sentence part of his sentence was to go to aaa meetings and you know all that stuff and he’s not an alcoholic he just made a dumb choice you know and and had some but similar like he was court ordered to go to meetings and stuff and so i’d be interested to talk to him to see you know yeah that would be weird because he’s not an addict and he never really did recovery he would comment and tell us the funny stories about the crazy people that you know were actual addicts i’d call him billy’s dad the whole time yeah so billy’s dad yeah so what else do i talk about drug court um so like if i let’s say for myself um my first charges when i got arrested my first time i got a dui and then i got arrested with like a quarter pound of marijuana was all in individual baggies for distribution and with that you’re shaking your head like that would not be eligible for drug court that’s a that’s a distribution charge oh okay unfortunately not no so it’s just possess so let’s say it was just possession let’s say i just had a bag of weed and you know i was i guess what would happen so i would go to court and they would let me choose drug court or how would that work again outside of my pay grade a little bit um i i just see the people after they were already sentenced in court after they had their court appearance that come in front of me and i go over but from my understanding is uh your attorney meets with the d.a and try to find an agreement on the drug court program if they’re mutual grant or not the attorney will bring it forth to the judge prior to that happening they bring it to the drug court uh coordinator um they get a pre-approval or whatever depending on the judge has the final say so either the d.a and the lawyer on the same page and the judges has to agree or the lawyers on the same page and the da’s not and the lawyer has to convince the judge not yet but this is all i guess post court so i would still have a court date where i would go to court and all that normal however things work yeah we’ve had people sit in jail for yeah especially over the pandemic for a long time uh over a year waiting to get uh waiting to get approved right so that was my next thing is this isn’t something that would keep you out of jail in the interim like if you no this is a long run i mean court’s notoriously a long process throw the pandemic in there and it’s it’s gotten even longer gotcha so you may still get a uh why can’t i think of the name of that bail you may still have bail and you may still have to sit in jail until your court hearing and then you could come out and then go into okay so as a someone who would be on drug court how what’s is there like a typical i don’t know if the word sentence but is there a typical length of time for the program like how on average it works or what generally it looks like for most people if you’re completely flawless in the drug court program which again saying the certain things we do it might not feel like a lot um the things we have the clients do but taking somebody fresh off the street and telling them you have to correct 100 of your problems right now and you have to walk a straight path right now a lot of times there’s an adjustment period it’s a one-year minimum program it probably averages more like 18 months to two years okay so you complete when you meet certain requirements it’s a phase-based program um there’s four phases the first phase being the most intensive it’s 30 days uh the second phase is 60 days these are minimum um third phase is 90 and the last phase is six months okay and can you can you briefly describe those phases are they pretty complicated sure um all all phases are contingent on clean time um all phases uh have a certain number of self-help groups that need to be turned in a certain amount of community service that needs to be turned in certain amount of case management appointments probation appointments that need to be attended and uh of course court uh every friday we all get together for court and uh everybody in the program not everybody in the program so when you’re in phase one it’s a lot more intensive it’s more closer to every friday uh as you gr as you uh gradually move through the program the friday’s lesson up for you for instance when you’re in phase four you’re only in court once a month now at those court proceedings all we basically do me as a case manager is i present to the judge the progress or the degress since the last court appearance whether they miss treatment groups they missed their community service they missed case management they got kicked out of treatment whatever it may be i bring it all forth there at the court hearing and then we determine what to do from there man i want to ask you if you’ve ever lied but i that wouldn’t be good for you um so what phase do they have to get a job again it’s a it’s a case-by-case basis um so we do have um some stay-at-home moms um now that is their primary responsibility um as long as they’re in a secured residence for a period of time that’s accredited um generally at least six months but but there is part of this program where they have to get a job again depending on right right reminded what the what i just said depending on the situation 99 out of 100 people yes they have to get a job in phase three and they got to get a job of the quality that will let them not be there on certain amounts of fridays each month right right so i miss a lot of time for court so you’re setting these people up to have not you obviously the program somewhat sets these people up to have maybe not so great jobs like i think about the kind of jobs where you could tell them look i just can’t work these fridays i’m thinking like fast food minimum wage low end well i mean i don’t well you’re taking people with no self-esteem right who’ve had this problem with drug use and all this shame and now they have to tell the employer well look i want to work for you but i’m going to have this conflict like that’s hard to especially if you’re thinking about going for a so called better job sure like i i don’t know i just feel like that’s the kind of that’s a bag of tricks right there that doesn’t sound like i’d want to be in well there’s always i mean those things are always difficult to navigate it’s the same with uh ordering people to intensive outpatient sure when they have a job like that becomes difficult you know it doesn’t seem that tough to navigate when people could stop trying to work their monday through friday nine to five and just have court on saturday to drug court and then let people work monday through friday like oh you mean put drill cord on it seems like it’s minor inconvenience for the [ _ ] people who are already established as working in drug court but judge got golf on set i get it i’m just saying i can’t be spending seems like some minor tweaks could help the people that’s all now where he’s like i like my saturday shut the [ _ ] up i’ll bring it up next week oh sure they’ll jump right on us so again i don’t know if it’s if it’s based on the senses of people we deal with or but that hasn’t really came up a whole lot now as far as seeing me um doing outpatient and you know correlate stuff like that um i’m very flexible i work around somebody’s work schedule as long as they can still make it in to see me at some point it is what it is drug testing they still have to drug test multiple times a week you know so they have to make that work for people that do work normal shifts we do offer early testing uh 5 am 5 to 7 am at another location and then offer it on site at the courthouse forward there till 4 30. are you available like weekends and night and nights am i yeah no i’m not available no it’s not that flexible well and as a person who had been court ordered to different treatments throughout my using and stuff and someone who always maintained a job i just feel like and i know it’s not for everybody but a lot of those things are like i always made it work and some of that time was working for my family but some wasn’t and so as addicts i think we’re really [ _ ] resourceful people and can make things work i think but if you’re looking for like yeah it’s not easy when you go out and get yourself into trouble or get yourself in a bad situation like no it’s not easy to just get out of that scot-free without some inconveniences and some some dealing with some consequences and [ _ ] to getting caught up in the system yeah and and maybe some of my stuff is you know what we might call devil’s advocate right maybe somebody is but but there’s always also this idea of like you know one stick it to the man because [ _ ] the man right and two like yes i get it it’s going to be hard but also why are we as a society we always want somebody else to like pay or have the trouble and like why are we so unwilling to be inconvenienced ourselves if we thought it might help right like and i’m not saying it would maybe we move court drug court to [ _ ] saturdays and it doesn’t change a goddamn thing right maybe not but i feel like just even the mention of that like if you were to actually go and mention that to the people at your work they would laugh you the [ _ ] out of that room right like the idea that oh man i could inconvenience myself a little that might help somebody else and we’re like yeah [ _ ] that they did the problem it’s not my problem like that’s that’s just funny to me that our society looks at things that way well and the way that we look at addiction now is such a uh epidemic in the society you think people would be more open to varying ways to help people you know like more opportunities for help should not be laughed at or frowned upon like we should be broadening our perspective on how to help more people so i mean i i got into therapy because i want to help people right and and i could because there is a lack of therapists in cecil county i could very easily say i want to work monday through friday eight to four or whatever the [ _ ] i wanted to work no problem i’m gonna have a full schedule but that people who can afford to take off work are usually the people who have better jobs more money things like that they’re more established and it’s usually the people that get [ _ ] on that you know would only be able to work in the evenings because they can’t take off from their job or they don’t have that flexibility right and those kind of things and so to me it’s like a priority for me look i gotta work two evenings a week i’m like even though it’s not convenient for my life i’m dedicated to this idea that i want to make myself available for not just the average person you know the person who struggles to get there and i don’t know i i do have a little bit of and maybe that’s where my self-righteousness is i do have judgment of like other therapists that won’t make them so they’re like nope i’m working monday through friday nine to five i’m like well [ __ ] you then you’re not really helping people right and that’s not fair of me to have that judgment but that is like i’m like no it takes some sacrifice on our end you know i sacrificed two evenings to be at home with my family because i think that’s what we need to do to help each other right but you know so hold on a tangent maybe in 10 years everything will look differently but up until right now at least at least in this nation courts aren’t open saturday and sunday and to have our court open on saturday it’s not just asking the drug court staff to be there it’s also asking um the judge on top of the judge the clerk um the district attorney you know of course in a perfect world that would happen we could uninconvenience everybody and just have the most convenient time for everybody as possible but a lot of these people at least at least from what i see right now i haven’t ran into a problem where somebody’s job was in jeopardy due to a drug court responsibility now we’ve especially people in phase one and phase two people want to jump on these nine to fives it’s like look take your time right now take the job if you have to but just remember you have these responsibilities right and that goes back to it being a voluntary program you know you can sit in jail and not do anything for the next two years or such or you can try to take this program get you out of jail get get a little bit of life in you and work towards a career and honestly the couple fridays a month is probably less intrusive than all the piss tests there’s probably a whole lot more right that’s probably a lot more intrusive than just the friday so yeah um and you had mentioned i mean in cecil county we said what 2009 drug court started i think it’s i’d have to verify i’m pretty sure 2009 and then in some of these counties it’s just now starting so this is somewhat fairly new well it all depends on the size of the court so they call them problem solving courts um so problem solving court has been around like we talked prior in baltimore for you know 25 years yeah it’s been around for a long time and i know where i’m from in pa they they started popping up in 2002 2003 uh and now these smaller courts are are just getting the staff together and getting the funding together to have these problem solving court programs and they’re still popping up everywhere i think looking it up it said 1989 was the first drug court in america so yeah and of course i think this most recent opioid epidemic has opened some people’s eyes to some real problems in this uh let’s just lock them all up throw away the key and how that’s not working that hasn’t worked um well the research on drug court just taken a quick gander at it it doesn’t really say a whole lot but it says you know the ideas are to reduce recidivism reduce usage rates and reduce costs and it says that you know there’s some research based showing it’s improved some like and honestly looking at the numbers and i’m not going to relate them all here but it didn’t look super impressive for me looking at the numbers but it also said that the methodology was kind of skewed because they can only kind of it’s not very experimental design right it’s quasi-experimental or it’s looking back at what has already happened and and really like it doesn’t take into account people who don’t make it through and this that and the other so it’s it’s really up in the air like is this really effective there’s not a whole lot of evidence based to it unfortunately i mean i how how many people would you say like what percentage of people complete the program that sounds tough that low that’s a hard question i i i started drug court in june or in may rather oh so you’re still like in the first uh and it’s a it’s a minimal a year-long program so i’ve i haven’t really seen i’ve seen a lot of people graduate but those were people ready to graduate when i started gotcha um now i’d be i’d be hard-pressed to give you a percentage if it’s i i’d say it’s definitely it’s probably definitely right around 50 okay um higher than i thought yeah uh and it might be a lot lower than that this is based off my caseload what i see um that’s probably good a lot of people a lot of people come in hard pressed ready for it and shoot right through some people come in stumble a few times and then shoot right through it a lot of people come in and stumble and stumble and stumble and find ourselves on the other side um that’s that’s a really hard that’s a really hard question to answer i’m not asking in two years and i did look up a few statistics i mean and this is just stuff i found from the u.s department of justice it said from a sample of 17 000 drug court graduates nationwide within one year of program graduation only 16.4 percent had been arrested and charged with felony offenses so yeah so i guess a year after the program you don’t have the recidivism i guess saying 16 out of 100 people have felonies after a year that’s not even that doesn’t count misdemeanors like that might be like 98 percent misdemeanors after a year but 16 felonies yeah wow let’s see what the well we assume the worst we have to assume they’re only talking about well i’m telling you they didn’t put it out there for a reason they worded it that way on purpose yeah that makes it sound somewhat successful um and it says let’s see this is a different uh reports is the united states special drug court has been functioning for over 20 years with about 2 500 drug courts active in the country according to a drug court statistic at least 120 000 citizens in the us get help through drug court effectiveness and interventions so that’s 120 000 people that you think would be in jail i guess that are kept out of jail through one of these programs it’s just like why don’t they put the numbers of how many people complete why don’t they put the numbers of i don’t know i feel like we use numbers and sciences

yeah what percentage of people who started complete it what percentage of people stay out of jail for three years five years what percentage of people don’t get charges for three years like i feel like there’s a lot of numbers not said in that statement which is kind of interesting to me like what’s left unsaid yeah see and here’s another statistic but it only includes people that graduated so it doesn’t you know it doesn’t mean as much but it said a study on drug court effectiveness found that 80 84 of individuals in the drug court program were neither arrested nor charged with any significant crime in the initial year after they graduated from the program significant so yeah but that only says people that graduated too it doesn’t say well how many people graduated and then what percentage of those people well and who the [ _ ] is choosing what’s significant all right the significant crimes what what’s your idea of significant crimes uh to me a significant crime would be anything almost anything criminal theft or or what crimes aren’t criminal billy well right traffic related charge traffic isn’t criminal yeah you know right so parking fine you know things like that why can’t drug court be like divorce court all right i’m going to leave the drugs they can have all my money and my health right so in your i mean in your experience with drug court do you find you had mentioned you would try to get into it at one point i mean do you feel that it’s a good option for people that are i think we do the best we can with what we’re with what we have and i think that goes for a lot of these things a lot of i’m sure that goes for voices of hope we we do the best for with what we have and i think uh probably the biggest thing to take away from that last sentence census you had people people that complete drug court have a minimum of six six months continuous sobriety that’s a minimum because phase four is six months long and you need at least that to complete phase four i think having that amount of clean time significant clean time and being rebuttal back into um the drug world afterwards uh you tend to hit this consequence a little bit harder as uh as we we all know you know so they get that six months of clean time under them they go out and use again and all of a sudden that recovery was like up on a mountaintop they’re like oh my god like what did i do what did i do to myself my life was great you know and then you have the people that are out there that are relapsing every week or every month that they don’t get that they don’t get that attachment to the recovery so they’re not losing all that right when you have somebody with six months clean time and they relapse they’re going to fall hard and hopefully get themselves back up quicker so when you say clean time but that that can count someone on buprenorphine or osteodynamics correct oh so they’re still clean correct according to the court yeah that’s all that matters yeah so given your situation over again would you take drug court as an option for you versus your time in jail would that be so would you still want to make the same choice if sure so i understand your question but i don’t think at the time in my life i was prepared for something like drug court i wasn’t done getting in trouble right you know um i wasn’t i still really liked getting high i still like getting high who the [ _ ] doesn’t like getting high right that’s why we do it because it’s enjoyable right at least that’s why we initially enjoy it or do it um at the time my life i don’t think looking back in retrospect i don’t i think it’s a blessing i didn’t get it you know um i spent more years in prison and i committed many more crimes right and i wasn’t done being a [ _ ] heart regardless what probation officer i had telling me this is what i had to do so um i think it wouldn’t hurt me in any way shape or form but i don’t think i i think it was the right call not to give it to me at that time right so like i mean i think it ends up like with most forms of recovery like you you got to have some level of desire for absolutely the the program to work you got to have some level of commitment i mean because i think the same thing i’m like even if they would have given me drug court i would have probably not completed it because i couldn’t even complete the probation and that sounded way less restrictive than drugstore you know and i couldn’t even do that because i wasn’t done getting high i wasn’t like i was like oh i’m gonna be done now i was like oh no i just need to do this better so i don’t get caught when you knew when you took the probation before judgment did you know like when you said you would take it that you were going to violate it um at the moment it was totally just the what’s going to keep me out of jail so i’m sure i didn’t think much more behind the i just want to walk out this door so i can go get high that was probably the most deepest thought i had about the whole thing i knew yeah i walked out the door i mean i knew i was walking out the door to get high now like that was my goal but i was like this is never gonna [ _ ] work well see and i always thought i could be smart enough i’m like i can get around whatever they got or whatever they’re putting up drug tests and all that other [ __ ] i’ll get around so not that you wouldn’t break the rules just that you wouldn’t get caught oh yeah i wasn’t planning on following any other rules and see i would take drug court under the same guys it’d be like i can get away absolutely you know absolutely so you made an interesting statement uh to me at least you said we do the best we can with what we have when you say that is what we have referring to the population you’re dealing with or is it referring to the ability the court has in the sense of what it has to offer yeah the tools or whatever uh yeah tools we have the opera uh offer in the courthouse uh time on on my end i do keep a drug court cell phone on me 24 hours a day so if any of the clients are ever going through anything 11 o’clock 12 o’clock they can always call me that’s pretty fast and yeah i can tell them where a meeting is close by whatever it is i do the best with my resources with what i know uh with what i know in the county with how i can refer people i’m restricted to cecil county if they’re not in recovery housing so i mean i i there is options but it’s not 24-hour options unless it’s crisis center like voices of hope do you are you allowed is there like job limitations where you’re not allowed to make like 12 step calls that we call them in the middle of the night like are you not allowed to go pick people up and take them to a meeting if they’re struggling is there like a job rule about that yeah no i can’t do that okay yeah just curious you can just kind of answer the call and i mean would would you talk to them and stuff like kind of talk them down i guess or whatever like if i really struggled absolutely and again nine times out of ten it ends with me referring to a certain meeting where i know a certain person there like hey man go to this meeting um talk to this person you know whatever just just so they have a name to show up to the meeting with so they’re not showing up to a room full of strangers i mean we forget what that’s like right we forget what that’s like walking into a meeting and not knowing anybody you know i got a taste of it a couple weeks ago when i walked in here and i knew nobody in the meeting i was like what where the hell have i been

so to hopefully give him some sort of uh comfortability walking in the meeting having that name being like hey it’s josh here or is john here you know oh heads up man uh ray told me um they told me you’d be here i would not be the right person for this job i’d be like go to this meeting and check out susan she’s really easy you’ll feel way better yeah so traction rather than promotion right when you say the tools you have available from your time there what would you like to see become available that you think would be more useful or or what like where have you seen challenges where you’re like man i wish we could do this because i feel like people would actually get helped by this but the red tape doesn’t allow it have you seen any of that so i think one thing that’s been popping up in in maryland at least more frequently now are these 3.1 level programs i don’t know if you know what that means you know yeah but describe it for our listeners anyway okay so 3.1 is we’re all familiar with halfway houses recovery houses 3.1 is a transition from a 3.5 inpatient program where it’s more recovery house centered but it’s also something that allows you to get established and get on your feet because at least the first half of these programs are primarily covered under insurance so it gives a person an opportunity especially from inpatient where they’re not just throwing ourselves in a recovery house and find ourselves eleven hundred dollars in debt in the first month or they’re not going back home and being in the same [ __ ] storm they left from but rather transition into this community where they can art naturally kind of rebuttal and get all their stuff back and work towards a career work towards schooling get yourselves on his feet and give him a chance rather than get him indebted immediately as soon as they enter the facility and you’re saying there’s just not enough of them around right now in cecil county there’s zero in cecil county i think we’re going to see a change of that over the past over the next 12 months i know of one of which that’s open in elkton in the next six months and hopefully two or three that are following suit hopefully make uh the cesar county recovery community look a lot like what’s happening over the bridge right now so what i need you to do is from now on refer to them as one quarter way houses and uh tell everybody that i coined that quarter way halfway three quarter

this is it yeah it’s a quarter way house um so in cecil county is this is drug court you know use the word full but is it full can it take more clients is there a cap on how many people it can help at one time or can be involved at one time uh there might be a cap not that i’m aware of right now i have uh uh my caseload is 25. that’s pretty good for uh what we do i mean it’s it’s it everybody has time i have time for everybody if it got up to a rate around 50 i might have some issues you know i don’t know that it could go that high i have no idea right now it’s 25 and i’m we’re doing just fine are you the only case manager no there’s uh there’s four of us it’s four case managers there’s like 100 people in drug court give or take now um probably less than that because um some some of the employees are part-time i’m a full-time case manager and i know at least two other ones are full-time so probably around 85 okay right now do people stay as case managers or do people stay in the drug court system working there very long or is there a lot of turnover no i have there’s actually no turnover i had uh i don’t know if you’d call it luck but i was lucky and and made it get getting this opportunity from the time i started working in drug court did now because prior to that there wasn’t a change over and other than my one co-worker i think six years so i mean it’s not a it’s not a huge office there’s me and the three other case managers there’s a coordinator and there’s the peer do you feel like in general the sentiment towards you as the drug court case manager is that you’re another gatekeeper authority person [ _ ] or is it more like hey race race all right he’s working with me he’s pretty decent so uh 100 of the time that’s how it starts out it starts out with them coming to me talk to me like probation officer you need a face tattoo yeah throw that off i need to face that now generally after our first visit i always try to loosen everybody up i tell my story not the bulk of it but man i i understand exactly where you’re sitting i was sitting where you were sitting many many many times i was facing the same things you’re facing i still face a lot of those things you know try to try to relate to them as much as possible initially so they’re comfortable telling me when they’re relapsing or when they feel like using or or what’s happening in the home because i like to get the broader spectrum of what’s going on in this person’s life so i know how to help them you know your your your brother’s [ _ ] smoking crack in the room next to you maybe that’s not the best environment for you right now it’s great that you’re talking about it but let’s see what we can do about it outside of getting your brother arrested you know all right let’s get that [ _ ] locker right yeah get him out of the house you have any more questions uh no nothing else i can think of all right well i i definitely appreciate that in i and i don’t know that this was the case you know in 1989 when drug courts were becoming established i feel like they were probably hiring joe schmuck out of the [ _ ] college you know to hold this position but i appreciate that somebody with lived experience and at least some level of compassion towards the people in the situation is who is in that job right like i would much rather see somebody like you there than joe schmuck out of college he was just like [ _ ] y’all or some probation officer who feels like they’re just looking to violate if every right my case load can be shorter if i violate these people right like so that’s that’s awesome that you’re there and you know i look i don’t know if drug court’s [ _ ] effective or not science can’t even show that quite yet but i i i’m glad there’s some movement towards let’s look at this differently right and if nothing else hopefully that inspires even more movement to like we need to really [ _ ] reevaluate this whole thing and and treat people like humans and give them a chance yeah is there anything you wanted to add about drug court anything you wanted to say or didn’t want to leave out i think we covered everything pretty well everything that i know anyway i guess i’d talk to me in two years maybe i’ll have a broader scope on everything so if you’re out there uh and you’re interested in drug court ask about it and and hopefully you just stay the [ _ ] out of court all together [ __ ] out a drug court it’s probably way better for your life but if you get arrested and you get some charges there’s drug court right all right stay safe did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordup.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us