October 04, 2018

Vermont Judiciary Receives Federal Grant to Expand Access to DUI Treatment Docket

SAMHSA logo

The Vermont Judiciary is pleased to announce that it has secured a $1.9 million, five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These funds will support the Southeastern Regional DUI Court Docket – Treatment Expansion Project, which will increase access to and capacity in the existing Windsor Adult DUI Treatment Docket.

Since 2013, the existing DUI treatment docket has provided alcohol and drug treatment to offenders in Windsor County using an evidence-based DUI/drug treatment court model. To date, the docket has received generous support from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, and it has operated with the cooperation of the Windsor County State’s Attorney’s Office; Health Care & Rehabilitation Services of Vermont; the Department of Corrections, Hartford Probation and Parole Office; and Jordana Levine, Esq. The existing docket has achieved impressive results: 80% of participants graduate from the docket, and participants have a recidivism rate of 20%, which compares favorably with the national recidivism rate for DUI offenders of 25%.

The new SAMHSA funding will enable the Judiciary to serve offenders convicted of not only alcohol DUI offenses, but also drugged driving DUI offenses. The expanded docket will also serve offenders in Orange and Windham Counties as well as in Windsor County, and it will increase the number of offenders served from an average of nine participants per year to 40 per year. Additionally, the funding will address gaps in outpatient treatment programming, and it will intensify treatment and ancillary services for program participants. Finally, the funding will enable the Judiciary to monitor the project’s compliance with fidelity to evidence-based best practices.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities, and in 2018 it issued a solicitation titled “Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult Treatment Drug Courts and Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts.”

The Vermont Judiciary’s application for grant funding was one of eight that SAMHSA selected for multi-year funding, and it received a score of 90 (the top score out of 73 submitted applications was 92).

State Court Administrator Patricia Gabel was pleased to learn that SAMHSA had selected the Vermont Judiciary’s application for funding and noted, “The Judiciary’s ability to design and implement creative responses to addiction-driven cases and to secure funding to support those responses depends significantly on the commitment of our justice stakeholder partners, including prosecutors, the defense bar, law enforcement, and treatment service providers. We are grateful to the Governor’s Highway Safety Program for its support of the Windsor Adult DUI Treatment Docket and to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for this generous award, which will facilitate the expansion of that docket so that it can deliver more services to more participants in more counties.”

State Court Administrator Gabel acknowledged the following Judiciary employees for their work developing the grant application: Treatment Court Programs Manager Kim Owens, former Project Coordinator Nicole Sorrell, and Senior Programs Manager Jeremy Zeliger. Ms. Gabel also acknowledged the contributions of Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill and staff from Health Care & Rehabilitation Services for their efforts developing the grant application. Finally, Ms. Gabel wishes to express her appreciation for the generous support of Vermont’s Congressional delegation to help secure this funding.