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Is Minnesota’s Hybrid Court Right for You?

Is Minnesota’s Hybrid Court Right for You?

A Hybrid Court Program in Minnesota can get adults charged with drug possession and driving under the influence of alcohol out of jails and prisons and into a treatment and rehabilitation program.

What is a Hybrid Court?

A Hybrid Court, also referred to as a Treatment Court, works with non-violent offenders suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction and mental health issues. In Minnesota, an offender convicted of a drug crime or a DWI offense may be eligible for a treatment and rehabilitation program in lieu of jail time. A Hybrid Court uses a therapeutic approach to tailor appropriate treatments with qualified professionals for program participants. The goal of a Hybrid Court is to provide treatment and rehabilitation to end drug and/or alcohol addiction and reduce recidivism for repeat offenses.

Minnesota Hybrid Courts are made up of a multidisciplinary team of professionals that usually include a court judge, a treatment program coordinator, a chemical dependency expert, a mental health professional, a prosecuting attorney, a defense drug attorney, a probation officer, and law enforcement officials. In Minnesota, team members are assigned to the Hybrid Court rehabilitation program for a minimum of two years to ensure consistency and stability in court operations. Team members are required to attend continuing education workshops on substance abuse, mental health issues, behavioral modification, and drug and alcohol testing. Under the leadership of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, an advisory committee seeks to improve outcomes for drug and/or alcohol-addicted offenders to enhance public safety.

Minnesota Hybrid Court Programs

Minnesota imposes standards for a variety of Hybrid Court programs. Each court program seeks to minimize the time between an offender’s arrest or probation violation and his/her entrance into a treatment or rehabilitation program.

Adult Drug Courts

Adult Drug Courts serve drug and alcohol addicted offenders. The goal is to reduce an offender’s likelihood of recidivism through successful treatment and rehabilitation. Adult drug courts require an offender to participate in continuous, intense, supervised treatment, as well as mandatory periodic drug testing. The court uses both incentives and sanctions for program participants.

Adult DWI Courts

Adult DWI Courts serve individuals charged with repeated DWI or DUI offenses. Since driving while impaired creates a major public safety problem, adult DWI courts require an offender to participate in supervised treatment plans, driver’s license reinstatement plans, and frequent drug and alcohol testing that uses sophisticated technology to detect alcohol in the bloodstream.

Juvenile Courts

Juvenile Courts serve teenagers charged with delinquency offenses caused by a moderate to severe substance abuse or mental health disorders. Since many juvenile offenders still live at home with their parents, diagnosing drug and/or alcohol addiction can be difficult. Depending on an offender’s age and length of addiction, traditional hybrid treatment and rehabilitation requirements may not be appropriate for juvenile offenders.

Mental Health Courts

Mental Health Courts serve individuals charged with offenses caused by severe or chronic mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Participants receive intense mental health treatment and clinical case management by a team of mental health professionals. As with most substance abuse offenders, people with serious mental health problems often become repeat offenders within the criminal justice system.

Veteran Courts

Veteran Courts serve active-duty military personnel and military veterans charged with crimes caused by substance abuse and mental health disorders. The court addresses conditions caused by traumatic combat exposure and difficulty integrating into society after military discharge. Veteran Courts use veteran peer mentors who provide 24-hour support and advice for program participants.

Program Eligibility

Eligibility and exclusion for treatment and rehabilitation programs require the approval of all court team members. Individual offenders are assessed to determine their treatment needs and level of risk using clinical screening and assessment tools. High-risk offenders are usually admitted into a treatment program, while low-risk offenders may be admitted but placed on a waiting list. High-risk offenders and not usually mixed with low-risk offenders.

Prior or current offenses may disqualify an offender from a court treatment program. If the offender’s record suggests that he/she can’t be safely managed for treatment, the offender may be disqualified. Offenders with violent histories or who have been charged with drug sales or drug trafficking are often disqualified.

According to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Corrections, there were 9,479 men and women in the adult prison population in 2018. Approximately 17.8 percent of inmates were arrested and put in prison for drug offenses. Statistics show that 60 percent of prison inmates were incarcerated for old crime technical violations, and 85 percent of inmates currently locked up have chemical dependency problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

Hybrid Treatment Courts in Minnesota are helping to treat criminal offenders with chemical dependency addictions as addicts, instead of hardened criminals. Treatment programs are reducing the population in overcrowded jails and prison systems and easing penalties for first-time non-violent offenders.

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