The Behavioral Intervention Court (B.I.C. hereinafter) has been a great success this year. The Court assists those who face mental health challenges that are the predominant cause of their criminal behavior. It also allows the Court, Klamath Basin Behavioral Health (KBBH) and other treatment providers to provide services in a manner that addresses the individual’s needs and keeps them and the community safe by assisting them in managing their mental health challenges. For the year of 2018, BIC had six graduates, the first being in January of 2018 and the latest in October of 2018. All of these individuals are in compliance with needed medications and receiving the support needed to avoid future socially disruptive behaviors.
Deputy District Attorney Sarah Holloway is assigned to the Behavioral Intervention Court and indicates that eleven more involved members are “hitting it out of the park” by complying with medications, regularly attending KBBH appointments and maintaining jobs and regular living arrangements. We anticipate many of these individuals will graduate and continue to be successful.
Family Court is an alternative court primarily fueled by references from the Judicial Bench. Judge Osborne reviews these matters approximately every three weeks or so. The matters referred to Family Court involve parents who have a pending Department of Human Services matter and a criminal matter. Participants are referred generally by a Judge. Sometimes a defense attorney requests a client participate, but ultimately admission to the court program is determined by the Judge. The Department of Human Services remains intimately involved in these matters and conditions include varied treatment program completions. The Family Court had 11 parents graduate successfully and their families are safely reunified.
Between May 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018, twenty-nine participants successfully graduated from the Adult Drug Court program. This is an intensive program requiring completion of treatment (with all the attendant conditions including drug tests, frequent court appearances, seeking of school and/or employment) and lasts at least eighteen months. The program is under the supervision of the Honorable Dan Bunch, and has a regimented weekly schedule that ensures the Court, Parole and Probation, the Treatment providers and the District Attorney’s Office is able to monitor the participants and ensure community safety is preserved and participant compliance and sobriety remain in place. Deputy District Attorney Andy Kartchner, sadly leaving Klamath Falls soon for a job with the Department of Justice Homeland Security, says of his experience with the program:
“In the last year, community partners in the Klamath County Drug Court Program have worked hard to re-vamp the program to more fully comply with industry best practices, to maximize due
process for participants, and to be as inclusive as possible. As a result, the program has seen an increase in participation and measured success in recent months. This re-vamped Drug Court Program has been a valuable tool for a community that has been greatly affected by drug use and trafficking, which in turn has led to a scourge of property crimes in the region. By attacking crime at its source—which is very often drug addiction—the Klamath County Drug Court Program is helping to reduce crime in Klamath County by providing a tested and proven service to drug-addicted offenders while still holding them accountable and ensuring justice to crime victims.”
Veteran’s Court is an alternative Court supervised by Presiding Judge Marci Adkisson. Klamath County adopted the first Veteran’s Court in the State of Oregon and launched it on November 9, 2010 under the shepherding of the late District Attorney Ed Caleb. In 2018, eight participants graduated from an intensive eighteen-month program for the period of May 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. Veteran’s Court participants are individuals who have served our country in the armed forces and either remain a member of the Armed Forces or left under honorable conditions. The program requires compliance with all treatment conditions recommended by the Court. These treatment conditions are suggested by the informed participation of the Veteran’s Services, Klamath County Community Corrections and other local treatment providers. The participant attends Court appearances routinely, receives treatment and support needed to deal with the collateral consequences of his or her service and remains a productive and contributing member of society.
Deputy District Attorney Ben Lykins participates for our office in this court. He indicates the opportunity to have the justice system working in close tandem with treatment providers allows a rare opportunity for Judges to routinely engage in an intensive review of each participant’s progress in treatment. The Court thus has the opportunity to engage with people in a non-traditional means and represents a dual focus on treating the underlying criminal causes and leaving our veterans substantially better off than they were before participating in Veterans’ Court. DDA Lykins states, “I know for a few of our more recent graduates, the court had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their lives and they are not only avoiding future criminal behaviors but are actively happier, and more engaged with the other aspects of their lives as well.”
Alternative courts enable the criminal justice system to provide qualified participants a means of changing the path of their life. If they fail to complete, they routinely end up on probation and serving the sentence they otherwise would have served, so community safety remains secured. And, individual hard work allows them to reap positive changes in their lives and avoid the original implications of a criminal conviction.
Update respectfully submitted in service,
Klamath County District Attorney