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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Drug Court Program

Drug Court Program Manager: Bernadine Howard, LCSW 
Phone: 630-407-8448

Mission Statement

The mission of the DuPage County Drug court program is to strive for better outcomes by longer tenure in substance abuse treatment programs producing better outcomes.  Drug Courts are proven to retain offenders in treatment considerably longer than most other correctional programs.  We also strive to provide our participants with quality treatment which is a critical consideration and shows significantly better outcomes.  Drug Court strives to break the cycle of addiction that drives criminal behavior of the non-violent drug user.  Through the coordinated efforts of the Judiciary, Drug Court team members, Community Service Providers, supportive family and friends, the drug court participant is integrated back in to their communities to give back, support their families, pay taxes thus breaking the cycle of addiction and crime.

Cost - Effectiveness

In line with their positive effects on crime reduction, Drug Courts have also proven highly cost-effective.  A recent cost-related meta-analysis concluded that Drug Courts produce an average of $2.21 in direct benefits to the criminal justice system for every $1.00 invested - a 221% return on investment.  When Drug Courts targeted their services to the more serious, higher-risk offenders, the average return on investment was determined to be even higher: $3.36 for every $1.00 invested.

Eligibility requirements

If the applicant meets the basic criteria, their attorney may file an application for the DuPage County Drug Court Program that can be found in all of the felony courtrooms. A six-week continuance is requested at that time. A licensed professional completes a thorough substance abuse evaluation. This evaluation format follows the recommended A-SAM criteria. The evaluation determines an applicant's level of addiction and level of care. If an applicant is in custody at the DuPage County Jail during this time, they will be attending the JUST Program. If they are out on bond during this time, they will attend Pre-Contemplative groups that are facilitated by Probation staff. The purpose of these groups is to prepare the applicant for treatment.

If a person is then found eligible for the DuPage County Drug Court Program, the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office and the defense attorney negotiate a plea agreement for the applicant. This agreement is based on the applicant's criminal history. If the applicant is found eligible and is in agreement with the terms and conditions of Drug Court, they then sign a Drug Court Contract and Agreement. These documents specifically state what the participant must do to complete the Drug Court Program successfully.

The Application Process

The Drug Court application process begins when the defense attorney/public defender meets with the defendant, explains the Drug Court expectations and the defendant agrees to pursue entry into the Program.  The defendant must file a “Drug Court Application” in court. This application prompts a criminal history report to be generated by the Probation Department.  The criminal history reports all criminal offenses charged in juvenile and adult court, including all pending cases.  The case is then temporarily re-assigned to courtroom 4003 for the duration of the application process.

The Assistant State’s Attorney will review the criminal history, pending charges and the applicant’s parole status.  The Assistant State’s Attorney will contact the arresting police officer and the victim to consider their input as needed.  The Assistant State’s Attorney will send notice to the team if more information is needed before the case can be screened (e.g. proof of residency, pending cases requiring resolution, parole consent, etc.).  The defense attorney will be asked to obtain the additional information prior to further consideration of the application.

If the assistant state’s attorney determines the applicant is not appropriate for the program, an e-mail will be sent to the team outlining the reasons for the decision.  The defense attorney can object to the Assistant State’s Attorney’s position. In this situation, the Judge will hear each party’s position and make the final decision whether the application will move forward in the application process.    

After approval from either the assistant state’s attorney or the judge, a probation officer will screen the applicant at the DuPage County Jail if the applicant remains in custody.  The initial screen includes collecting background information and completing the Texas Christian University (TCU) Drug Screen V, an addiction assessment administered to screen for mild to severe substance use disorder, level of care in treatment and treatment placement.   The officers will have the applicant sign releases of information.  At the same time, the probation officer will provide the applicant with a copy of the Participant Manual which provides an overview and expectations of the program.  The applicant is required to complete a “Request to be Moved to the Recovery Pod” and submit it to jail personnel.  The Recovery Pod is run by JUST (Justice-Understanding-Service-Teaching) and provides programming targeted at substance abuse, criminal thinking, impulse control and peers.  The recovery pod holds therapeutic groups, individual counseling and gives out written assignments. 

If an applicant is on bond in the community, the probation officer will see the applicant at the probation department for the screening interview as described above.  The applicant will be given information about attending weekly pre-treatment groups at probation in addition to being assigned a color for random weekly drug testing.  It is a requirement that the applicant not consume any alcohol or illegal substances.  All prescription medication must be approved by a probation officer.

After the screening, if the applicant meets addiction criteria, he or she will be interviewed for a Substance Abuse Assessment by a licensed treatment provider.  The purpose of the substance abuse assessment is to diagnose and identify the level of treatment, make treatment recommendations and create a treatment plan. The assessment will also highlight other areas for which the applicant should receive treatment (e.g. mental illness, trauma, PTSD, etc.).  

During the application process, applicants are to:

  • Attend all weekly pre-contemplation groups offered at probation or attend all available JUST classes offered in the DuPage County Jail;
  • If out on bond, report to the Probation Officer weekly;
  • Arrive on time and stay for the entire group session;
  • Thoroughly complete and turn in all homework assignments on time;
  • Respect the privacy of others in the groups (participants are not to discuss any confidential issues outside of the group);
  • Submit to random, observed urine screens during the application process (failure to submit a sample or a positive urine screen for any illegal substances or alcohol may affect bond status).

Prior to the next court date, the team will discuss the results from the Substance Abuse Evaluation, treatment recommendations and possible agencies for placement at staffing.  A court date will be set for plea and contract.

Prior to entry into the Program, the defense attorney will review with the applicant the “Consent to Participate in Drug Court”, and the “Plea Agreement and Contract”.  Once all questions have been answered and both documents have been read and signed, the Judge will undertake appropriate plea proceedings, consistent with the law, Supreme Court Rule 402 and PSC Standard 7.2(e).  The applicant will be advised of the treatment recommendations, status of placement, and the projected time for their name to come up on a wait list.