Probation Drug Diversionary Program Expands to all District Courts in Bucks
The Bucks County District Attorneys office announced Monday the District Court Diversion Program (DCDP) will expand its pilot probation program from five district courts to all 18 allowing for the inclusion of additional participants who need drug treatment, but who are currently ineligible due to their prior records and their drug of choice.
The expansion of the effort seeks to cast a wider net for those involved with the county probation office who are in need of treatment.
The DCDP Program was created in 2018 and designed to provide intervention services to an individual shortly after they are arraigned before a Magisterial District Judge on misdemeanor substance use-related offenses, such as drug possession, and or possession charges for small amounts of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
As part of their probation, each participant must abide by the rules of the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department; and shall schedule a drug and alcohol assessment within three (3) business days and abide by all treatment recommendations of the assessment. The DCDP Probation Program expedites drug and alcohol treatment and ensures accountability by placing the individual needing treatment on probation sooner, said officials.
The challenge to the effort, as it is for many seeking help is the availability of treatment beds. Even with the help of the criminal justice system getting a bed, is a challenge, who went through an earlier version of the program, a person in recovery said.
“You don’t get that assessment done right away, you’re most likely going to find your ass right back in jail, with a probation violation. Look what they’re trying to do is great, and I understand, you give an active person an inch and they’ll take a foot. With so many people looking for “help”, especially with winter coming, they might want to really look at that.”
Earlier this year, District Attorney Matt Weintraub penned an open letter to President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr., detailing the importance of diversionary programs, such as a mental health court, to address the unique situations of defendants. “The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to the mission of seeking individualized justice for each citizen that comes into contact with the criminal justice system,” Weintraub said.
A 2020 Philadelphia Inquirer report covering the 18-month mark of the program identified “a gap” in the effort pointed out by District Judge Daniel Baranoski.
The Penndel Borough based judge said then ‘it’s a strong program and a good start, but I don’t think we should be limiting this. This is basically the only program that gets people charged with possession into treatment at an early stage, and we’re missing our target audience.
“The goal of the DCDP Program is to connect the individual to an assessment and coordinate an intervention or treatment that will help identify and address his or her needs. This program has proven successful as a cheaper, quicker, and closer treatment-based alternative for people needing it right away, rather than making them go through the traditional, lengthy court process as their only option in the past. It undoubtedly has saved lives, and we are excited to offer it county-wide,.” Weintraub said.
“I’ll tell what though,” said the person in recovery “there was nothing here for anyone not too long ago. So I hope some of my sick and suffering friends take a shot at this. I’m tried of going to funerals.
Lower Bucks reached out to several area judges for comment on the program expansion, as of publication time, none have replied.