Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Governor McAuliffe to be Guest Speaker for June 20 Richmond Drug Court Graduation


~ Ceremony will also recognize retiring Judge Margaret P. Spencer ~


The Honorable Terence ‘Terry’ R. McAuliffe, Governor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be the guest speaker for the Richmond Adult Drug Court graduation ceremony on Friday, June 20, at 1 p.m. at the Richmond Police Training Academy, 1202 West Graham Road. The Honorable Betsy B. Carr, of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 69th District, will present a commemorative resolution to the Richmond Adult Drug Treatment Court for the program’s outstanding work in the field of criminal justice for the past 15 years. Additionally, a special presentation will take place honoring the years of service for retiring Judge Margaret P. Spencer; Richmond Circuit Court and Presiding Drug Court Judge from 1998 through 2014. The graduation ceremony will mark the completion of an intensive 18-month outpatient program of drug treatment, probation supervision, judicial monitoring and community service for seven Adult Drug Court participants.

As one of more than 2,000 drug courts operating in the U.S. and one of 36 drug courts in Virginia, the Richmond Adult Drug Court monitors non-violent, drug-addicted offenders with pending cases in Richmond’s Circuit Court. Offenders volunteer for the program, and participate only after approval of the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney. They must meet all program requirements, which include maintaining gainful employment and abstinence from drugs, alcohol and crime, to successfully complete the program. They are also required to attend regular Drug Court hearings in Circuit Court, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or similar external recovery meetings, and group and individual counseling sessions with licensed substance abuse clinicians. In addition, they must perform community service. Compliance with these requirements is rewarded with incentives and non-compliance is addressed with sanctions that include incarceration. This integration of court, probation, and treatment services leads to higher retention rates in treatment, and lower crime and drug use rates following program completion.

Unlike the majority of drug court participants in Virginia and the nation, Richmond Adult Drug Court participants enter the program with long-term drug addictions to cocaine or heroin, and lengthy non-violent criminal histories. More than 98% of the participants are probation violators, and do not receive a reduced or dismissed charge upon graduation. Reducing or dismissing charged offenses is a standard practice in most drug courts. Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) found that completing the Richmond program resulted in lower costs, lower recidivism, and better employment outcomes relative to comparison groups completing other similar programs and probation. Richmond Adult Drug Court participants also pay taxes and child support, and save taxpayers the costs of re-entry into the criminal justice system.

The ceremony honoring the June 2014 graduates, and the reception following the ceremony, are open to the public. For more information, please contact Tanisha Moseley at (804) 646-3655 or at Tanisha.Moseley@RichmondGov.com.