NORRISTOWN, PA – The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas
announced today its Drug Treatment Court has been accredited for adhering to a nationally recognized framework of best practices. After a rigorous process, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced the Montgomery County Drug Court will retain its accredited status through November 2023.
The accreditation report noted the Drug Court’s pivot to deliver services virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, strength of its internal processes and trainings, and its reduction in relying on jail as a sanction. A new partnership with Montgomery County Recovery Community Center (MCRCC) was also highlighted for expansion of its mobile recovery services. MCRCC connects people with substance abuse disorders to services within walking distance to Adult Probation and the Courthouse.
Judge Steven T. O'Neill, the presiding judge of Drug Treatment Court recently acknowledged the honor.
“I am gratified by the continued accreditation and recognition of our Drug Treatment Court by our Supreme Court. We are about to commence our seventeenth year of operation. When we commenced in 2006, I had no idea of what kind of impact that this Court of “therapeutic jurisprudence” could have on the lives of so many individuals suffering substance use disorders which led them into the criminal justice system. We have admitted more than a thousand participants, with over 700 completing the Court supervised, long term structured recovery program. Our Drug Treatment Court is truly criminal justice reform in action. Instead of incarcerating individuals suffering substance use disorders, Drug Court allows them to save and change their lives while saving taxpayer dollars and keeping our communities safer.”
The Montgomery County Drug Court met ten key components for accreditation which include:
- Integration of alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.
- Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights.
- Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the Drug Treatment Court program.
- Drug Courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
- Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
- A coordinated strategy governs Drug Court responses to participants’ compliance.
- Ongoing judicial interaction with each Drug Court participant is essential.
- Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness.
- Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective Drug Court planning, implementation and operations.
- Forging partnerships among Drug Courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances Drug Court program effectiveness.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill is a leader in this field training other Drug Court administrators on the national level, earning the Montgomery County Drug Treatment Court the distinction of being a mentor court for other jurisdictions.
“I commend Judge O’Neill on his dedication to making sure our residents are provided due process and wraparound services while also maintaining our Drug Court’s status as a model among our peers,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “We are extremely proud to have our Drug Court accredited for the second time, and we look forward to continuing to support the Courts to maintain this designation.”
As part of accreditation, the Drug Court provides data, participates in interviews, and accreditors observe operations. Montgomery County Adult Probation & Parole, The District Attorney’s Office, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, and Montgomery County Correctional Facility all participate in the Drug Court accreditation process. Drug Treatment Courts and DUI Courts are the only courts that can apply for accreditation at this time.
On November 10, 2016 the Montgomery County Drug Court was recognized for their use of best practices in the field of problem solving courts and awarded accreditation by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a distinction valid for three years.
In 2012 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved an accreditation program for Adult Drug and DUI Courts to recognize problem solving courts which operate utilizing the best practices known to the field. With a few exceptions, the Accreditation Programs Guidelines provide for the accredited status to be valid for three years. In May 2015, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts brought together members of the Accreditation Advisory Committee to assist in the development of a program for the renewal of accreditation, which was adopted in May 2015. Renewal is a three step process with begins with a review of program documents and the team training log. Step two is a site visit to observe the team meeting, court session, and to conduct interviews of the judge and program coordination. Step three is the generation of a report of these observations and any significant changes to the court since it was initially accredited.