Adult Drug Court
Adult Drug Court Overview
The Adult Drug Court is the original Specialty Court in the 2nd Judicial District,
established in 1995 under the auspices of Judge Peter Breen, following the national
model that began in Miami in 1989. The goal of the Adult Drug Court is to engage the
drug-addicted criminal offender in intensive therapeutic and judicial intervention, with
the goal of reducing further involvement in the criminal justice system. The Court pays
for the cost of treatment when clients are initially enrolled in the program although
participants are expected to repay the cost of their treatment as they conquer their
addiction, gain employment skills, stable housing etc.
The primary drugs of choice in the Adult Drug Court are methamphetamine and alcohol,
followed by cocaine, marijuana, and opiates. Many defendants in the Drug Court exhibit
co-occurring disorder and those with a severe mental illness are often transferred to the
Mental Health Court for more intensive attention to their disability.
The Adult Drug Court provides defendants charged with drug-related crimes with
outpatient treatment services and drug testing with the goal of reducing further
involvement in the criminal justice system. The program is set up for one year of
treatment and six months of Aftercare. (Aftercare clients are still seen by primary
counselors when there are issues of relapses, job loss or any other crisis that may occur).
The program is set up in five phases; each phase has a different level of intensity. Some
clients will require inpatient treatment before continuing their drug court program. The
length of time and the requirements can increase depending on how well a client is
progressing and meeting treatment goals.
The 2nd Judicial District Court contracts with Bristlecone Family Resources to provide
testing, treatment, and case management for Adult Drug Court clients, using a Team
approach involving the judge, defense counsel, treatment personnel, court personnel,
parole and probation, and the prosecutor as needed.
Educational and vocational services are part of the comprehensive treatment plan. At
four months, clients receive an individual life skills assessment through Project CARE
and are offered financial literacy classes, pre-employment skills training, and assistance
in securing appropriate employment. Assistance in reviewing educational status is
provided as needed along with goal setting for furthering each client’s educational goals.
The legal structure of the Adult Drug court is bifurcated, according to the class of
defendant. It is a post-adjudication, pre-sentencing court for those entering the court
before sentencing and it is a post-sentencing court for those who are assigned to the court
as a condition of their probation.
Upon acceptance, the entire case is transferred to the Adult Drug Court, to allow the
Adult Drug Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final
disposition. Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures. If a
defendant is removed from Drug Court he/she is returned to the original Judge for further
Diversion Court Overview
The Diversion Court was established as a Specialty Court in the 2nd Judicial District in
February of 2000. The Diversion Court encompasses the statutory definition of diversion
in NRS Chapters 453 and 458 as applied to defendants who are designated as alcoholics
or addicts by the sentencing court and otherwise meet the requirements of the statutes to
be sentenced for up to three years in a court-supervised rehabilitation program. Once a
District Court Judge accepts the guilty plea and determines that a defendant qualifies for
Diversion Court, the case is referred to the Specialty Courts. Approximately 130
participants each year enroll in the Diversion Court.
The Diversion Court is funded by the defendants themselves who are allowed to choose a
provider from a list of Court-approved organizations. (BADA certified). Every defendant
is required to attend weekly counseling sessions during the first six months of the
program, attend three NA/AA/rational recovery groups per week, and participate in
weekly random drug testing. Defendants are required to pay for their treatment and for
The Diversion Court allows for close coordination with the other criminal specialty
courts. Defendants who do not perform well in the Diversion Court, a less intensive
version of Adult Drug Court, may be transferred to the regular Drug Court or to the
Mental Health Court if it is determined that the source of the problem is a severe mental
The primary drugs of choice in the Diversion Court are methamphetamine, marijuana and
alcohol, followed closely by opiate abuse. The defendants in Diversion Court tend to be
involved in the earlier stages of addiction or alcoholism and thus, are more likely to
succeed in a less intensive intervention program.
The minimum required length of program for all Diversion Court defendants is 18
months. The last six months of the program, the defendant must be “perfect,” that is,
fulfill all testing requirements, attend all required groups, and pay parole and probation
supervision fees, counseling fees, and court fees in full.
At the end of the initial orientation, willing and eligible defendants are immediately
scheduled for introduction to the Judge in the court session that afternoon. Their case is
then processed through the normal court channels.
The defendant is also given a list of BADA-certified substance abuse treatment agencies
and selects the provider that best meets his/her needs in terms of location, hours of
operation, and cost. The defendant is quickly engaged in the treatment process and
begins testing and treatment as soon as practically possible, always before the next
Diversion Court appearance in two weeks.
Upon acceptance, the entire case is transferred to the Specialty Courts Division, to allow
the Diversion Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final
disposition. Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures.
Family Drug Court
Family Drug Court Overview
The mission of the Family Drug Court is through a collaborative effort, to ensure a child
has a safe and nurturing environment by focusing on healthy and sober parenting and
permanency planning through family reunification. The Family Drug Court Team
features collaboration between the Court, Social Services, substance abuse treatment
providers, and community support agencies, including the Foster Grandparent Program.
The 2nd Judicial District has operated the Family Drug Court since 1994, utilizing two
tracks, with participants appearing twice a month before the Judge. The Family Drug
Court requires an active aftercare plan to encourage ongoing compliance with treatment
to maintain sobriety, ensure reunification, and avoid further involvement in the child
welfare or family court system.
The Family Drug Court’s target population is substance-abusing parents charged with
abuse and/or neglect of their minor children, and their minor children. Participants in the
Family Drug Court are almost always clients of public systems of care and assistance. By
definition, 100% are involved with the child welfare and the criminal justice systems.
There are several obstacles that hinder the effectiveness of the Family Drug Court. One
is the current stream of extremely complex cases as clients rarely present with a “pure”
substance abuse problem. Increasingly, our Court has experienced a large number of
clients with a high incidence of co-occurring disorders and a mental health system that is
under-funded and very difficult to access. If the mental illness is left untreated or ‘undertreated,’
it often jeopardizes the substance abuse treatment and the goal of reunification.
Another aspect of the co-occurring disorder obstacle is the very high incidence of women
in the Drug Court who were sexually abused as children, and are now experiencing
clinical depression as a result. Many times this childhood trauma has not ever been
addressed, but surfaces during the substance abuse treatment program. Self-medication
with drugs and/or alcohol is a common response to childhood trauma.
The 2nd Judicial District Court contracts with two treatment providers, Bristlecone Family
Resources and Step 2/Lighthouse of the Sierra, to provide testing, treatment, and case
management for Family Drug Court clients. The Family Drug Court uses a Team
approach involving the judge, defense and prosecution counsel, treatment personnel,
court personnel, and integrated services coordination through a unique partnership with
the Foster Grandparent program. After care/continuing care is part of the program, as are
educational and vocational services.
Juvenile Drug Court
Juvenile Drug Court Overview
The Juvenile Drug Court in the 2nd Judicial District was created in 1994 under the
auspices of Judge Deborah Schumacher. The structure of the Juvenile Drug Court was
built upon the adult drug court model first established in Florida in 1989 and offers a
regimen combining rehabilitation and strict accountability. It requires the juvenile to
appear before the court over a longer period of time than is typical of most juvenile court
dockets, and it involves substantial participation by family members.
Rehabilitation services in the Juvenile Drug Court are provided in the form of drug
testing, counseling (both individual and group), family therapy and parenting education,
transitional housing, recreational therapy, and aftercare.
The Juvenile Drug Court requires a minimum stay of nine months before graduation.
Most defendants average a 12 month length of stay including aftercare. The Court
contracts with a local treatment provider, Quest Counseling, for seventeen treatment
slots. The primary drugs of choice in the Juvenile Drug Court are methamphetamine,
alcohol, and marijuana, followed by cocaine and opiate abuse. Many juveniles are
experiencing significant problems in their education as well as family conflicts, poor peer
relations, and on-going difficulties within the delinquency arena.
Over the past few years, a major trend has been documented in the Juvenile Drug Court
concerning juvenile offenders with serious mental health problems. It has become
increasingly apparent that a substantial number of youth referred to the Juvenile Drug
Court have not received adequate ongoing care for a severe emotional disturbance. These
youth are often failing at school and experience serious difficulties in the substance abuse
treatment environment. Although the Court has attempted to address these needs through
a specialized case plan, it has been determined that more intensive mental health services
are needed to fully understand the scope of the problem and needed services.
For these reasons, Juvenile Services and the Court sought additional private sector
funding to implement Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an intensive
community and family-based program, delivered by a team of masters level (or higher)
therapists who have multiple contacts with the youth, family and extra-familial systems
each week. MDFT targets factors that lead to and sustain substance use and related
conduct problems and juvenile delinquency. The intervention consists of three stages:
1. Comprehensive assessment of problem areas and pockets of untapped or
2. Working phase where significant change attempts are made within and across
interlocking subsystems (individual, family, peers, schools etc.).
3. Sealing the changes and preparing the youth and family for using new
knowledge, experience and skills.
The intervention includes individual sessions with each youth to address difficulties in
school, at home, legal problems and relationship concerns; family sessions to address
conflict and improve communication and problem-solving; parent sessions to improve
parenting skills and address parental health and well-being; extra-familial systems to
include probation, schools, court and community-service.
The Juvenile Drug Court participants are screened by Washoe County Juvenile Services
and its contracted treatment provider, Quest Counseling and then brought to the entire
Juvenile Drug Court Team for review. Youth with identified substance abuse and mental
health issues are ordered into the Juvenile Drug Court, usually as a condition of their
juvenile probation. Each youth is assigned to the caseload of one of the juvenile
probation officers assigned to the Drug Court and all are supervised by the Juvenile Drug
Court’s Pretrial Services Officer.
The Juvenile Drug Court is a post-adjudication, post-sentencing court. Youth are
typically assigned to complete the Juvenile Drug Court program as a condition of their
probation. The minimum required length of program for all Juvenile Drug Court
defendants is nine months. Most youth spend an average of 12 months in the program,
with a specific aftercare plan that is individualized for each participant.
Upon acceptance into the Juvenile Drug Court, the entire case is transferred to the
Juvenile Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final disposition.
Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures.
Juveniles with serious mental illness are case managed by the Juvenile Drug Court
Pretrial Services Officer, Misty Sanchez, who is specially trained in education access
issues. She attends all court staffings and court hearings to report progress on the court’s
orders for mental health care and coordinates closely with public and private community
providers to facilitate access to mental health care in residential and outpatient facilities.
Expulsion from the Juvenile Drug Court is at the sole discretion of the Judge and
typically occurs if a defendant shows little or no motivation to succeed after repeated
efforts by the Team to motivate improved performance. Chronic and persistent illegal
drug use and/or repeated failure to comply with even minimal treatment requirements
may lead to expulsion from the program through a dishonorable discharge or remand to
the juvenile court for a probation revocation or commitment to a state youth training
Prison Reentry Court
Prison Re-Entry Court Overview
The Prison Re-Entry Court in the 2nd Judicial District began as one of the nation’s first
two federally funded Re-Entry Courts, operating in Clark County (Las Vegas) and
Washoe County (Reno). The goal of the Re-Entry Court is to reduce the number of
nonviolent offenders in prison by providing them with intensive supervision and
treatment in an effort to break the cycle of crime associated with drug use.
The Re-Entry “Early Release” Program was created by the state Legislature in 1999 on
the recommendation of Governor Kenny Guinn. It was created by statute (NRS 209.4311
- 209.4317). Originally, inmates with one prior felony conviction were allowed to
participate in the program, making it very difficult to find candidates who qualified. An
amendment to the law during the 2001 legislative session (AB 574) opened the program
to inmates with up to four prior non-violent felony convictions, significantly increasing
the number of eligible participants. Further changes were made in the 2007 Legislative
session which may lead to even more eligible participants, and possibly additional
funding to serve them.
Currently, participants must be within two years of probable release from prison, have a
history of drug addiction, and be a nonviolent offender. They must be able to secure fulltime
employment or participate in a full-time educational or vocational training program.
Program participants must fully cooperate in the court-supervised program that provides
intensive supervision, drug testing, graduated sanctions and other rehabilitative efforts in
areas such as education, medical services, housing, and employment.
The Prison Re-Entry Court operates under the Adult Drug Court model with one
exception: each prisoner is required to live for four months in a transitional living facility
to ensure that re-integration into society proceeds at a measured pace. The cost of living
in the facility must be borne by the participant. The Court pays for the cost of treatment
when clients are initially enrolled in the program although participants are expected to
repay the cost of their treatment as they progress through the program.
Educational and vocational services are part of the comprehensive treatment plan, and
participants are offered financial literacy classes, pre-employment skills training, and
assistance in securing appropriate employment. Assistance in reviewing educational
status is provided along with goal setting for furthering each client’s educational goals.
Each Prison Re-Entry Drug Court defendant must complete at least a year in the program,
with “good behavior,” (no illegal substance use or missed appointments) during the 90
days prior to graduation. Six months of Continuing Care is required with random drug
tests according to the Judge’s order and at least monthly appearances in Court.
Expulsion from the Drug Court is at the sole discretion of the Judge and typically occurs
if a defendant shows little or no motivation to succeed after repeated efforts by the Team
to motivate improved performance. Chronic and persistent illegal drug use and/or
repeated failure to comply with even minimal treatment requirements may lead to
expulsion from the program and an immediate return to prison.