Offering second chances to individuals in the criminal justice system who have a substance use disorder has been at the heart of the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Treatment Court mission for 20 years – and they’re getting national and worldwide recognition for it.
In December 2019, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) awarded its prestigious “Mentor Court” status to the Treatment Court for a third consecutive term. The three-year designation allows established and new treatment courts from around the country and world to visit and observe how to operate a successful program. The Treatment Court received the designation for the first time in 2013.
“Our Treatment Court is one of only eight in the country with this recognition, so it is quite an honor,” says Julie Seymore, Treatment Court Administrator. “Throughout the last seven years, we’ve had visits by court staff from throughout Missouri, the United States, and even as far away as the Northern Mariana Islands near Guam.”
The Treatment Court provides individuals an opportunity to become sober, productive citizens by engaging them in an intensive court-supervised treatment program. Presided over by Judge Phil Ohlms, cases are screened by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, and approved by the Treatment Court Team to ensure eligibility criteria is met. Participants are required to make frequent court appearances, attend group and individual treatment sessions and community-based support meetings, take frequent drug and alcohol tests, meet with a probation officer, complete community service hours, pay court fees, and maintain full-time employment or be enrolled in school full-time. Over 1,500 participants have graduated from the program with a recidivism rate of less than 7 percent.
“This program is a critical component in criminal justice reform,” Seymore explains. “Instead of sending individuals with a substance use disorder to prison, we are giving them a chance to stay in the community where they can keep their job or go to school, support their families, and learn how to live in recovery. We host a graduation ceremony four times a year for participants and nearly every individual speaks about how the program has positively impacted their life and their relationships with loved ones.”
For more information about Treatment Court, call 636-949-7458 or email.
Pictured: Judge Phil Ohlms and Treatment Court Administrator Julie Seymore