The Pennsylvania Association of Treatment Court Professionals (PATCP) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for the establishment of Treatment Courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Treatment Courts are also known as problem solving courts or specialty courts. They include Drug Courts (Juvenile & Adult), Mental Health Courts, DUI Courts, Veterans Courts and Family Courts. The Pennsylvania Treatment Court Professionals organization was established in 1999.
The History of Treatment Courts
The first Treatment Court in the United States was a drug court which was started in 1989. It was located in Miami- Dade County, Florida. This was a new effort to combat the crack cocaine epidemic that occurred in the Eighties. Today, Treatment Courts are located in every US state and territory, as well as other countries.
In April of 1997, Philadelphia began operation of the first adult drug court in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Later that year, similar programs began operation in Chester, Lycoming and York Counties. As of 2020, fifty-one Counties in Pennsylvania have established Treatment Courts. Several counties have multiple programs that they have established over the years.
The goal of the Pennsylvania Treatment Court programs is to decrease the frequency of clients’ contacts with the criminal justice system. These programs operate by providing courts with resources to improve their clients’ ability to function in society. They also aim to link clients’ to employment, housing, treatment, and other support services. The emphasis is on treatment to facilitate change, rather than incarceration.
How It Works
Treatment Court blend the oversight of the court with participants who must engage in appropriate treatment. To successfully complete a treatment court, participants receive treatment, case management, and close supervision, frequent (and random) drug testing along with other components of comprehensive treatment as needed. Treatment court participants are in the program for about one year, but can be in longer. Treatment court participants must regularly appear before the treatment court judge who rewards them for progress or sanctions them for non-compliance.
The judge leads a team of professionals. Participants are typically nonviolent. Upon successful completion, participants benefit rewards can include dismissal of charges, dismissal from probation/parole and reunification with children.
Research indicates that Treatment Courts are the most effective strategy in reducing recidivism, especially among drug dependent offenders and offenders with serious and persistent mental illness.