Vermont SAC Completes Evaluations of Three County Programs

JRSA Forum. March 2013. Volume 31, Number 1.

Bennington County Integrated Domestic Violence Docket Project: Process Evaluation
The Bennington County Integrated Domestic Violence Docket (IDVD) Project was initiated in September 2007 as a special docket within the Bennington County Criminal/Family Division Courts. The goal of the IDVD Project was to provide an immediate response to domestic violence events by coordinating Family and Criminal Division cases. Dedicated to the idea of One Family, One Judge, the IDVD Project was designed to allow a single judge, one day each week, to have immediate access to all relevant information regardless of the traditional docket and to gather all appropriate players at the table regardless of any traditionally limited roles. The IDVD Project focused on: 1) protection and safety for victims and their children as well as other family members; 2) providing immediate access to community services and resources for victims, their children, and offenders to help overcome the impact of prior domestic abuse and prevent future abuse; and 3) providing an immediate and effective response to noncompliance with court orders by offenders.

The IDVD Project was up and running from 2007 through early 2010. For varying reasons, the project disintegrated from its original inception, and the Vermont SAC conducted a process evaluation to determine "what worked" and whether there were process issues that contributed to the disintegration of the docket. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted in person with team members, and themes that fell into two broad categories emerged: themes that were related to the outcomes and themes that arose organically during the interview process. The first part of this report addresses the implementation and outcomes of the stated goals of the project. The second part addresses the organic themes that illustrate issues that were important to team members outside of the objectives of the IDVD Project but are related to the ability to replicate the project elsewhere.

Washington County Treatment Court: Outcome Evaluation
In 2002, the Vermont Legislature established a pilot project to create drug court initiatives and begin implementing drug courts in three Vermont counties – Rutland, Chittenden, and Bennington. Since the establishment of these drug courts, and the initial indications of their efficacy, additional Vermont counties have started drug court programs. The Washington County Treatment Court began official operation in September 2006. It was established with the purpose of combating drug crimes, not only drug possession but drug-related crimes, both misdemeanors and felonies, such as retail theft, burglaries, and grand larceny. Offenders identified as drug-addicted are referred to the court by law enforcement, probation officers, and attorneys and put into a treatment program whose goal is to reduce drug dependency and improve the quality of life for offenders and their families. In most cases, after their successful completion of drug court, the original charges are dismissed or reduced. The benefits to society include reduced recidivism by the drug court participants, leading to increased public safety and reduced costs to taxpayers. This report provides the results of an outcome evaluation conducted by the Vermont SAC to determine the extent to which the Washington Treatment Court reduced recidivism among program participants.

Chittenden County Mental Health Court: Outcome Evaluation
The Chittenden County Mental Health Court (CMHC) began operation in January 2003. It is a program for adults who have committed a crime and are having difficulty with issues related to severe and persistent mental illness but are deemed competent to stand trial. These mental illnesses could include schizophrenia, paranoia, clinical depression, and borderline personality disorders. The CMHC accepts participants with any mental health diagnoses, including personality disorders and intellectual disabilities, but the majority of participants also have a co-occurring substance use condition as well. Typically their offenses are crimes such as disorderly conduct, unlawful trespass, drug possession, burglary, and retail theft. Occasionally, the court will hear felonies, such as arson, DWI, and assault, though all cases must first be approved by the State's Attorney's office. This report contains the results of an outcome evaluation conducted by the Vermont SAC to determine the extent to which the CMHC reduced recidivism among program participants.