Forsyth County Drug Treatment Court

Funding the restart of Winston Salem's Drug Treatment Court after its 6-year absence was the original mission of Phoenix Rising and its Founder Kerri L. Sigler.

As a criminal defense attorney and then-public defender, Sigler represented countless addicts and lost many of them to the battle along the way. By 2016, she fully recognized the urgency of offering addicted criminal defendants a sentencing option that was intensely supervised, supportive, and centered around the singular goal of getting addicts better so they could leave the criminal justice system and live full productive lives.

On November 2, 2016, Sigler began making phone calls to various community agencies and the process of creating a drug treatment court began. On December 1, 2017, Drug Treatment Court held its first court session after a full year of planning meetings in which Sigler was the key player and driving force, and for which Phoenix Rising and the City of Winston Salem provided the funding.

What Is Drug Treatment Court?

Many addicts reach a point where their addictions are funded through crime. Without Drug Treatment Court, the only sentencing options available to a court for an addicted defendant are regular probation, incarceration, or do-it-yourself deferred dismissal programs.

Regular probation is neither designed nor equipped to help an addict recover from his/her addiction.

Incarceration results in temporary sobriety, but is unaccompanied by treatment, making the sobriety statistically short-lived and the likelihood of fatal relapse increase.

Do-it-yourself deferred dismissal programs order an addict to go get better on their own and, if they do, their charges will be dismissed. Almost no one succeeds. Court orders and dismissal incentives are simply insufficient to overcome addiction.

Drug Treatment Court is a specific kind of probation designed to provide intense supervision by a team of probation, court, and treatment professionals on a level that regular probation cannot. Participants participate in regular and frequent drug screens, treatment, and court visits to monitor and celebrate progress.

Because of the intensity and holistic nature of the supervision provided, Drug Treatment Court, statistically, is the most effective sentencing option for addicted defendants. According to the National Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals, 65% of US inmates have a substance abuse disorder. Drug Treatment Court is 40% more effective than any other sentencing option when it comes to reducing recidivism and getting addicts into active recovery.

Why Is Drug Treatment Court Important?

Drug Treatment Court isn't tough on crime, it's smart on crime. Drug Treatment Court reduces recidivism more than any other sentencing option, meaning the community stays safer than it does when any other sentencing option is applied. The results are also longer lasting and more cost-effective than incarceration, which costs the taxpayers approximately $100 per day per inmate and never solves the underlying problem of addiction. According to the National Institute for Justice, Drug Treatment Courts save taxpayers an average of $6,744 per participant.

Most importantly, Drug Treatment Courts get addicts into active recovery, allowing them to return to their work, families, and community as productive, contributing members of society. The return in human capital cannot be measured or understated.