The Bar Foundation provides donations that allow the Court to assist participants in meeting basic and transitional needs such as food, clothing, rent, utilities, transportation, prescriptions and job training.
For those that are unfamiliar with the concept of a diversionary court, these are specialized courts where people who are charged with an offense enter a plea on their case, and rather than receiving a standard jail or probationary sentence, they work with a treatment team focused on creating and implementing an individualized treatment program backed by possible court sanctions for noncompliance. If successful, participants have their charges drastically reduced or even expunged. If the team decides the person should be unsuccessfully discharged, the individual will be sentenced on the charge they pled to enter into the program. All applicants must be Cumberland County residents and must have pending criminal charges in Cumberland County.
The Cumberland County Treatment Court is a PA Supreme Court certified program that provides a cost-effective alternative to incarceration through a long-term, judicially monitored regime of treatment for non-violent substance dependent offenders. Founded on 7 November 2006 under the direction of then Judge Ebert and now run by Judge Masland, the program is Cumberland County's oldest diversionary court program and strives to return clean and sober individuals to the community after equipping them to maintain their sobriety and improve the quality of their lives. In those 12 years, treatment court has entered 215 participants and graduated 108 of those persons, with ~30 involved currently in the program.
Treatment Court is a voluntary program for adult residents of Cumberland County who have been charged with non-violent criminal offenses. This provides participants an opportunity to pursue treatment for their addiction(s), while productively addressing associated legal problems. Participants can enter treatment court with a history of alcohol dependence or while struggling with addictions to controlled substances. Once the participants are accepted they are required to complete a four phase program (minimum of 15 months) culminating with graduation. Participants are subject to weekly court appearances, frequent drug testing, intensive drug/alcohol treatment and immediate sanctions and incentives. After graduation, a participant petition the court to have their charges dismissed. If the participant also pays off the restitution that was due on their docket, as well as all costs, their charge is expunged.
Due to the maturity of this program, we have demonstrable proof that this evidence based practice approach to rehabilitation works. Statistically, participants who complete treatment court are convicted of a new crime at only a mere 11% rate, which is roughly a fifth of what could be expected of a general population of convicted criminal defendants who are on state parole. While involved with treatment court, less than 2% of participants pick up a new charge within two years which is an absolutely astounding number. By treating participants with an understanding of their circumstance and addressing the illness that is addiction directly, productive members of society are created by the program as opposed to ex-cons without life skills or coping mechanisms to prevent relapse and re-offense.
TOMS (Together Optimizing Mental-Health Solutions) Court In comparison with Treatment Court, TOMS Court is an extremely young program, having only been founded in 2017 under the leadership of Judge Brewbaker after a brief pilot program to assess the feasibility of the program. The TOMS Court acronym is in dedication to Judge Brewbaker's father Tom, who committed suicide after a long battle with depression that he ultimately lost. TOMS Court aims to create a positive for families and participants alike and helps to coordinate treatment with pro-social and personal development for the participants. Furthermore, even in cases where a person is not an appropriate candidate for the program but who suffers from MH issues, the treatment team is able to provide guidance for where applicants should apply for treatment due to the number of county programs available to residents that are partnered with the court.
A person need not be facing a state prison sentence to be eligible for this program as it is recognized that unlike drug addiction, one does not wake up in the morning and choose to be mentally ill; rather they are most likely to be the most vulnerable of all persons who have interaction with the criminal justice system and usually those lease "at fault" for their behaviors. Participants engage in the program for at minimum 12 months to obtain stability and build the life skills that they need to be successful in society.
To qualify for TOMS Court, a participant must have a serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder) and must be willing to engage in mental health treatment. Unlike treatment court, the team will entertain applications for persons charged with any offense that a person's mental illness has led to the charge or created the circumstances for the offense to have occurred. Once accepted, participants receive even more individualized treatment than those in treatment court due to the highly variable nature of mental illness. Participants work with a forensic case manager who coordinates their mental health services, are assigned a probation officer trained in assisting those with mental illness, and may be referred to any number of county, state, or federal programs to facilitate learning to maintain their mental health.
As a younger program, funding is much tighter for TOMS Court than treatment court. Much of the therapy that participants receive is paid by their insurance, or in limited cases, through partnership with the drug and alcohol commission for persons with a dual diagnosis of MH and drug dependency concerns. Furthermore, there are fewer state and federal programs giving money to MH courts than there are programs available to fund treatment courts. Despite limited funding, however, the program has already helped to make huge improvements in the participants' lives and for their families.
The program has graduated two successful participants so far, and is set to graduate 3 more after the new year. Currently, 22 participants are actively involved with the court, and 8 more are pending entry or are applying. Only two participants have been terminated from the program unsuccessfully, and both are the only persons to date who have been involved with the program who have picked up a new charge. For a population of participants with debilitating illnesses such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, this is an incredible early start for the program.
Although you did not ask for information about this program, I would be remiss if I did not bring the brand new opiate court to the foundation's attention. Judge Brewbaker has established the County's Mental Health Court and the Nation's second Opioid Intervention Court in response to the Opioid crisis that is gripping the country. Founded in March of this year, OIC is a model for the state and the country for how to rapidly address the needs of defendants suffering from opiate addiction. Once accepted, participants appear once a day for 30 court appearances for random urine screening and for a check in with the court. OIC participants tend to enter the program at the outset of their case, with many entering even before their preliminary hearing. Persons who complete the program's 30 day requirement then have individually assessed levels of aftercare to continue to assist participants in their battle against addiction. OIC is different than the other two courts in that it is not intended to be a long term solution to a person's addiction; rather, it acts as triage to stop the bleeding, so to speak, of persons suffering from addiction.
Due to the rapid response for entry into the program, persons who otherwise would be on bail continuing to use opiates and committing property offenses to feed their addiction have instead been paired with a certified recovery specialist to address their treatment and associated needs. These efforts have had a substantial positive impact on the community, and the OIC program in particular has played a huge role in reducing overdoses in Cumberland County. When all of our neighboring counties have seen an explosion of overdoses and opiate related crimes committed, Cumberland County stands alone as the only jurisdiction to see a decrease from last year, and OIC is a huge part of that. Furthermore, and most importantly, not a single person who has participated in OIC has had a drug overdose death nor required the administration of naloxone to reverse an overdose.
32 South Bedford Street, Carlisle, PA 17013
Tel: 717-249-3166 | Fax: 717-249-2663