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Judicial Circuit Drug Court

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Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court

Program Overview
The Augusta Judicial Circuit (AJC) Adult Felony Drug Court program is a judicially led program that is a minimum of twenty-four month/maximum 36 month, five phase substance abuse treatment program. The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program is an alternative to incarceration for the individual facing charges in Richmond, Columbia, or Burke County who can function in the community with support.  It is the goal of AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program to improve the quality of life and reduce recidivism and provide those who graduate a solid foundation upon which to build in order to become a productive member of our community.     
        
Program Mission & Purpose
The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program’s mission is to reduce recidivism through substance abuse intervention combined with immediate judicial review and response that supports addressing the participant’s substance abuse problem through clinical counseling, frequent drug testing, and court appearances. The purpose of the AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program is to coordinate substance abuse interventions with judicial support with an immediate sanction and incentive process. The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program is a coordinated effort between justice and treatment professionals, intended to break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and crime.  

Administration
The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court team includes the Judge, Program Coordinator, Treatment Provider, Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Defense Attorney Representatives, Case Managers, Administrative Staff, Law Enforcement, and Probation Service Representatives. All Team members work together to support each participant in addressing and combating the substance abuse issues that brought them into the criminal justice system.  

Treatment Services 
The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program provides treatment services for intensive therapeutic interventions with an emphasis on drug rehabilitation and changing criminogenic thinking. The treatment model most often used is an outpatient model; however, where indicated, participants may be referred to and required to successfully complete a residential treatment program prior to beginning the outpatient program or, if necessary, during the outpatient program. Consistent with the AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program model, treatment begins with a thorough and complete assessment of a participant’s history and level of involvement with alcohol/drugs. Based on this assessment, the treatment provider will develop a treatment plan to address individualized rehabilitative services as needed.

Key Components of the AJC Drug Court Program
The AJC Adult Felony Drug Court program operates consistent with its Policy Manual, which incorporates the National Association of Drug Court Professionals' Drug Court Standards Ten Key Components of Drug Court Programs. Rules are well defined and easy to understand. Adherence to the Adult Felony Drug Court rules is within the individual's ability to control and comply. Success or failure is based on the participant's performance. The participant's performance is communicated directly to the Judge, who rewards progress or penalizes poor performance and noncompliance. Participants are encouraged to take control of their own recovery.

  1. Integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing 
  2. Promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights using a non-adversarial approach
  3. Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the drug court program
  4. Provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services 
  5. Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and drug testing 
  6. Use a coordinated strategy to govern drug court responses to participants’ compliance
  7. Provide regular judicial interaction with each drug court participant 
  8. Monitor and evaluate the achievement of program goals to gauge effectiveness 
  9. Provide each AJC Drug Court team member opportunities to attend training to promote effective planning, implementation, and operations of the program
  10. Forge partnerships among other drug courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations to generate support and enhance program effectiveness.

Program Referral Form, Brochure and Handbook

Referral Form

AJC DC Participant Handbook

Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court Program Phase Structure

Phase 1
Minimum of 3 months/Maximum 5 months
Attend 3- 1 ½ Hour Group Sessions Weekly (Process, Skill & MRT [16 week course])
1 Individual Treatment Session (per week)
Random Drug Screens (minimum 3/maximum 7)
3 hours Community Service (per week)
First 30 Days Monday – Saturday UDS Testing
After first 30 days, a minimum of 3 UDS’s/Anytime color is called – to include Saturdays
Curfew 6 PM - 5AM [If unemployed or until employment has been verified]
Curfew 9 PM – 5 AM [If employed (must provide proof of employment)]
Must be clean a minimum of 30 days and must acquire sponsor/verification to be considered to phase up
Must have a zero balance to advance to Phase 2 and 20% of restitution (per phase/if owed)

Phase 2
Minimum of 4 months/Maximum 7 months
Attend 3- 1 ½ Hour Group Sessions Weekly (Process, Skill & MRT [if not completed])
1 Individual Treatment Session (per week)
Random Drug Screens (minimum 3/maximum 7)
3 hours AA/NA Meetings (per week)
Minimum of 3 UDS’s/when color is called –including Saturdays (per week)
Curfew 6 PM - 5AM [If unemployed or until employment has been verified]
Curfew 9 PM – 5 AM [If employed (must provide proof of employment)]
Must be clean a minimum of 30 days and must acquire sponsor/verification to be considered to phase up
Must have a zero balance to advance to Phase 3 and 20% of restitution (per phase/if owed)

Phase 3
Minimum of 5 months/Maximum 7 months
1- 1 ½ Hour Group Sessions Weekly (Process & Skill)
1 Individual Treatment Session (per week)
Random Drug Screens (minimum 3/maximum 7)
3 hours AA/NA Meetings (per week)    
Curfew 6 PM - 5AM [If unemployed or until employment has been verified]
Curfew 9 PM – 5 AM [If employed (must provide proof of employment)]
Must be clean a minimum of 30 days and must acquire sponsor/verification to be considered to phase up
Must have a zero balance to advance to Phase 4 and 20% of restitution (per phase/if owed)

Phase 4
Minimum of 6 months/Maximum 7 months
Attend 1- 1 ½ Hour Group Sessions (Process & Skill)
1 Individual Treatment Session (per week)
Random Drug Screens (minimum 3/maximum 7)
3 hours AA/NA Meetings (per week)    
Curfew 6 PM - 5AM [If unemployed or until employment has been verified]
Curfew 10 PM – 5 AM [If employed (must provide proof of employment)]
Must be clean a minimum of 30 days and must acquire sponsor/verification to be considered to phase up
Must have a zero balance to advance to Phase 5 and 20% of restitution (per phase/if owed)

Phase 5
Minimum of 6 months required
Attend 1½ Hour Group Session (per month)
1 Individual Treatment Session (per month)
Random Drug Screens (minimum 3/maximum 7)
3 hours AA/NA Meetings (per week)    
Curfew 6 PM - 5AM [If unemployed or until employment has been verified]
Curfew 10 PM – 5 AM [If employed (must provide proof of employment)]
Must be clean a minimum of 365 days to Graduate
Must have a zero balance and remainder of restitution paid (if owed) (if owed) to graduate

Application to Phase-Up
Phase 1 Requirements
Phase 2 Requirements
Phase 3 Requirements
Phase 4 Requirements
Phase 5 Requirements

Participant Program Forms/Form Email Links 

All forms are due by 7 PM the Monday immediately before court on Thursday. If you have not sent the form to the correct email by the due date, it will not be accepted. This includes all special requests, community service, work detail, and payments.

Community Service Form
Community Service Form
EMAIL community service form to: ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: CS - Last Name, First Name - Date

AA/NA Form
AA/NA Form
EMAIL AA/NA form to:  ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: WD - Last Name, First Name - Date

Work Detail Form
Work Detail Form
EMAIL work detail form to: ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: WD - Last Name, First Name - Date
While emergencies do arise, special request are not approved immediately, therefore plan ahead in order to get approval.

Special Request Form
Special Request Form
EMAIL special request form to: ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: SR - Last Name, First Name - Date
Graduation petitions are due 1 month prior to graduation.

Medication Request Form
Medication Request Form
EMAIL Medication Request form to: ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: CS - Last Name, First Name - Date

Graduation Petition Form
Graduation Petition Form
EMAIL special request form to: ajcdc@augustaga.gov
*IMPORTANT IN THE SUBJECT LINE: GP - Last Name, First Name - Date

SEND COPIES OF PAYMENT RECEIPTS TO: ajcdc@augustaga.gov

Types of A.A. Meetings
Most meetings last about an hour and are held on a regular basis at the same time and place every week. There are several types of meetings as follows:

Open Meeting - generally around-the-table discussion on some topic relating to alcoholism. There will be a chairperson and generally a leader. Someone will read a section from the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous on "How It Works." The leader will then introduce the topic.
Closed Meeting - structured the same as the open meeting with the exception that only people with a desire to stop drinking, or people who think they may have a problem with drinking, may attend.
Speaker's Meeting - a speaker will be introduced who will tell his or her story for the entire meeting, usually following a format of (1) what life was like when he or she drank; (2) what happened to make them stop drinking; and (3) what sobriety means to their life now.
A Big Book Study - specifically designed to improve your understanding of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous - a good meeting for members new to the program.

About Narcotics Anonymous
The 12-step recovery model is the most recognized method of success in sobriety. Most people have heard about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) but not everyone has heard of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). NA is derived from the 12-step basis of Alcoholics Anonymous that is based on the idea of reliance on a Higher Power to relieve the obsession of drug addiction and alcoholism. This is achieved through working the 12 steps. NA is an international, community-based, association of recovering drug addicts. 

Drug Addiction Information and Resources

Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is a complex illness characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug cravings and compulsive drug use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. While the path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, over time a person's ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised, and finding and consuming the drug becomes compulsive. This behavior results largely from the effects of prolonged drug exposure on brain functioning. Addiction is a brain disease that affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior.

Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual's life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Addiction treatment must help the individual to stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives.

Principles of Effective Treatment
Scientific research since the mid–1970s shows that treatment can help people addicted to drugs stop using, avoid relapse, and successfully recover their lives. Based on this research, key principles have emerged that should form the basis of an effective treatment program:

  1. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  2. No single treatment is appropriate for everyone
  3. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just drug abuse.
  4. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.
  5. An individual's treatment and service plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets changing needs.

Behavioral Therapy Approach
Behavioral therapy is an important element of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Preventing relapse is necessary for maintaining effectiveness. A continuum of care that includes a customized treatment regimen that addresses all aspects of an individual's life, including medical and mental health services, are crucial to an individual's success in achieving and maintaining a drug–free lifestyle. Behavioral treatments help patients engage in the treatment process by modifying attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase healthy life skills.

Treatment in the Criminal Justice System
Treatment in a criminal justice setting can succeed in preventing an offender's return to criminal behavior, particularly when treatment continues as the person transitions back into the community. To alter attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that support drug use, the drug abuser must engage in a therapeutic change process to help prevent relapse. Longitudinal outcome studies find that drug abuse treatment improves outcomes for drug abusing offenders and has beneficial effects for public health and safety.

Rewards and Sanctions
The systematic application of behavioral management principles underlying reward and punishment can help individuals reduce their drug use and criminal behavior. Rewards and sanctions are most likely to change behavior when they are certain to follow the targeted behavior and when they follow swiftly. Just as it is important to recognize and reinforce progress toward responsible, abstinent behavior through rewards, graduated sanctions, which invoke less punitive responses for early and less serious noncompliance and increasingly severe sanctions for more serious or continuing problems, can be an effective tool in conjunction with drug testing. The effective use of graduated sanctions involves consistent, predictable, and clear responses to non-compliant behavior.

Adult Felony Mental Health Court Program

The Augusta Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court (AJCMHC) program provides a treatment program and serves as a meaningful alternative to incarceration for the participant who can function in the community with support.  It is the goal of the AJCMHC program to improve the quality of life and reduce recidivism for the participants in this program.  Those who gradate will have a solid foundation upon which to build in order to become a productive member of our community. The AJCMHC team concept involves a collaborative effort between the judge(s), district attorneys, defense attorneys, mental health court coordinator, mental health court case manager, mental health court administrative staff, law enforcement, treatment providers, and probation service representatives. All Team members work together to support each participant in addressing and combating the issues that brought them into the criminal justice system.  The AJCMHC team meets every week to review the progress of every participant and holds court sessions. The program is a court-imposed condition of probation for defendants before the court who have serious mental illness or co-occurring mental health and alcohol/substance abuse issues.

AJCMHC TEAM ROLES
JUDGE: Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge]

The Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge] presides over the Augusta Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court program. The Judge Blanchard is aware of the significant impact of mental illness and/or substance abuse has on the court system, the lives of participants and their families, victims of criminal behavior, and the entire community. The judge is committed to the overall function of the AJCMHC program concept and goals and presides as the AJCMHC team leader to encourage participant success. The judge monitors and addresses participant progress and accountability in accordance with program requirements.  The judge has many other daily responsibilities, which require judicial attention, therefore direct contact with the judge or his/her office staff is not permitted.

ADMINISTRATIVE CASE MANAGER
Administrative staff monitors participant information concerning treatment issues, program issues and program violations. The administrative case manager attends all staff meetings and provides written summaries on participant’s progress at staff meetings by providing the AJCMHC team with updates on any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCMHC program.

CLINICAL CASE MANAGERS
Clinical case managers provide individual, rehabilitative and case management services to the participant. The clinical case manager provides written summaries on participant’s progress and updates of any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCMHC program to the program coordinator.

MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM CORE REQUIREMENTS

  •  New criminal charge(S) may be subject to sanctions and/or termination from the Mental Health Court program.
  • MHC participants are required to live in Richmond, Columbia or Burke County throughout involvement in the Mental Health Court program.
  • MHC participants are required to obtain permission from the Court prior to leaving the Augusta Judicial Circuit or the State of Georgia for any reason.
  • MHC participants are not permitted, under any circumstances to be in possession of a firearm or any other weapon.

TREATMENT REQUIREMENTS
Treatment plans will be based on an initial assessment of the individual’s problems and needs. The plan will act as a guide for the participants first 45 days of treatment, during which time a more permanent treatment plan will be developed. This plan will help the participant set goals, select methods for meeting those goals, and develop target dates for achieving those goals. The plan will be kept in the participants treatment file for regular review and necessary updates as progress is made through the program.

COUNSELING
Counseling may be comprised of three separate formats; individual, group and educational sessions. As part of your treatment plan, you will be required to participate in all three types of counseling. Together they are designed to develop self-awareness, realize self-worth, and practice self-discipline. The individual and group counseling sessions will include problem identification and alternative solutions. Participant attendance at counseling sessions will be reported to the Judge as part of the participant’s progress report. Attendance in treatment sessions, groups, or appointments are a requirement of the program. During treatment, the participant’s counselor may determine the need for additional counseling. This may focus on areas of family, marital or mental health counseling.

Adult Felony Veteran's Treatment Program

The Augusta Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Veterans’ treatment Court (AJCVTC) program serves as a meaningful alternative to incarceration for the participant who can function in the community with support.  It is the goal of the AJCVTC program to improve the quality of life and reduce recidivism for the participants in this program.  Those who gradate will have a solid foundation upon which to build in order to become a productive member of our community. The AJCVTC team concept involves a collaborative effort between the judge(s), district attorneys, defense attorneys, veterans’ treatment court coordinator, veterans’ treatment court case manager, veterans’ treatment court administrative staff, law enforcement, treatment providers, and probation service representatives. All team members work together to support each participant in addressing and combating the issues that brought them into the criminal justice system.  The AJCVTC team meets every week to review the progress of every participant and holds court sessions. The program is a court-imposed condition of probation for defendants before the court who have service connected benefits with co-occurring veterans’ treatment related issues and/or alcohol/substance abuse issues.

AJCVTC TEAM ROLES
JUDGE: Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge]
The Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge] is the judge that presides over the Augusta Judicial Circuit Veterans’ treatment Court program. The judge is aware of the significant impact of substance abuse on the court system, the lives of participants and their families, victims of criminal behavior, and the entire community. The judge is committed to the overall function of the AJCVTC program concept and goals and presides as the AJCVTC team leader to encourage participant success. The judge monitors and addresses participant progress and accountability in accordance with program requirements.  The judge has many other daily responsibilities, which require judicial attention, therefore direct contact with the judge or his/her office staff is not permitted.

AJCMHC COORDINATOR: Rhoda Kimble-Wheeler
Rhoda Kimble-Wheeler is the AJCVTC coordinator. The program coordinator is the administrator of the Augusta Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Veteran’s Treatment Court Program. The AJCVTC coordinator facilitates the communication and contact between all members of the AJCVTC team. The coordinator will meet with a participant when necessary involving any aspect of their AJCVTC participation.

ADMINISTRATIVE CASE MANAGERS
Administrative case managers provide individual, rehabilitative and case management services to the participant. The administrative case manager provides written summaries on participant’s progress and updates of any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCVTC program to the program coordinator.

CLINICAL CASE MANAGERS
The clinical case manager provides individual and a broad range of rehabilitative and clinical case management services to the participant. The clinical case manager provides written summaries on participant’s progress to the AJCVTC program coordinator every week with updates on any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCVTC program.

VETERANS’ TREATMENT PROGRAM CORE

  1. New criminal charge(S) may be subject to sanctions and/or termination from the Veterans’ treatment Court program.
  2. VTC participants are required to live in Richmond, Columbia or Burke County throughout involvement in the Veterans’ treatment Court program.
  3. VTC participants are required to obtain permission from the Court prior to leaving the Augusta Judicial Circuit or the State of Georgia for any reason.
  4. VTC participants are not permitted, under any circumstances to be in possession of a firearm or any other weapon.

TREATMENT PLANS

Treatment plans will be based on an initial assessment of the individuals problems and needs. The plan will act as a guide for the participants first 45 days of treatment, during which time a more permanent treatment plan will be developed. This plan will help the participant set goals, select methods for meeting those goals, and develop target dates for achieving those goals. The plan will be kept in the participants treatment file for regular review and necessary updates as progress is made through the program.

 

Augusta Judicial Circuit Drug Court Team/Staff

James G. Blanchard, Jr.
Judge, Superior Court, AJC
Phone: (706) 312-7356

AJC Adult Felony Drug Court Program
Attn:  Rhoda Kimble-Wheeler
735 James Brown Blvd.
Suite 2200
Augusta, GA 30901
Phone: (706) 823-4424

Senior Administrative Case Manager:  Karonica Hurndon
Administrative Case Manager:  Al Goode
District Attorney Representatives:  Leland McElveen, Andrew Palmer, Tom Watkins
Defense Attorney Representatives:  Tanya Jeffords, Phillip Elder, or Attorney on Record
Treatment Provider:  Family Counseling Center of the CSRA
Law Enforcement Representatives:  Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Marshal’s Department, Probation Office

Quick Links

Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition of the Big Book
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
Journal for Recovery
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
The promises, from pages 83-84 of the Big Book
Videos - Neuroscience and Addiction
Overcoming Drug Addiction