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90-Day DART-Cherry

January 6th, 2011
By Jamie Markham

The Department of Correction runs substance abuse treatment programs for probationers and certain parolees: DART-Cherry in Goldsboro for men, and, as of last year, Black Mountain Substance Abuse Treatment Center for women (about which you can read more here).

DOC is making changes at DART-Cherry. Previously, there were two program tracks there: a 28-day cognitive-based program and a 90-day therapeutic community program. According to a November memo from the Secretary of Correction, as of January 1, 2011, DOC is discontinuing the 28-day program and devoting all 300 beds at DART-Cherry to the 90-day program. The memo explains the reasons for the change; in short, evidence shows the longer program works better.

Probably in response to the planned changes, I’ve been asked several times recently whether a probationer must have a suspended sentence of at least 90 days to be ordered to attend a 90-day treatment program. It’s a really good question. Unfortunately, I don’t think it has a clear answer.

DART-Cherry is a residential program under G.S. 15A-1340.11(8) and -1343(b1)(2). Unlike special probation (for which G.S. 15A-1351 caps the active portion of a split sentence at one-fourth the maximum sentence imposed or, for impaired drivers, one-fourth the maximum penalty allowed by law) there is no explicit statutory requirement for a person to have a suspended sentence of a particular length before being ordered to participate in a residential program. A defendant need not, for example, have an 8-year suspended sentence to participate in the 2-year residential program at Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) in Durham.

But DART-Cherry is arguably different. It has been deemed sufficiently restrictive of participants’ liberty to count as confinement under G.S. 15-196.1. State v. Lutz, 177 N.C. App. 140 (2006) (ordering credit against an activated sentence for time a defendant spent at DART-Cherry while on probation). If a court revoking probation must retrospectively credit the time as confinement, must a court sentencing a defendant to DART-Cherry as a condition of probation prospectively consider the time as confinement? To the extent that it must, sentences to DART-Cherry start to look like split sentences—which, under the one-fourth rule from G.S. 15A-1351, would need to have at least four days of suspended sentence for every day spent in the program. Under that approach a 90-day stint at DART-Cherry would only be permissible for a probationer who had at least 360 days of suspended time, or a DWI probationer sentenced to Level One or Level Two punishment.

But that’s just an argument; I don’t know of a case or statute clearly requiring a defendant to have a 90-day sentence (much less a 360-day one) as a prerequisite for attendance at 90-day DART. DOC’s list of eligibility criteria for DART-Cherry, available here, likewise does not say anything about a particular sentence length. But even if there’s no legal or administrative requirement for a defendant to have a certain amount of suspended time, it strikes me that a court might think twice before sending a person with a short suspended sentence to the 90-day program. Because any time spent there necessarily will count for credit upon revocation under Lutz, the offender becomes effectively revocation-proof when he or she has been in the program for time equal to the suspended sentence. I’m told the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission takes that approach, only sending parolees to the program if they have 90 (or close to 90) days remaining on their sentence.

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10 Responses to “90-Day DART-Cherry”

  1. Martha Norman says:

    I thought that Structured Sentencing effectively did away with the 1/4 rule. Since minimum sentences under Structured Sentencing are virtually day for day, wouldn’t a sentence of 90 days or greater be sufficient for admission to DART, provided there is no other credit for jail days or in-patient treatment earned?

  2. charles thompson says:

    this is more of a question than a comment. I personally asked to be sent to the dart cherry program because obvisouly i have a substance abuse problem i am fighting against due to the loose of both my parents recently. i am not being forced in anyway shape or form to be sent to the dart cherry 90 day program. my question is this. do i have to really deal with the bullshit as far as the fighting goes and bullying? believe me when i say this i have been in my share of fights and to be honest i am quiet good at it but this is my concern. im growing up and im done with the drama and i dont want to deal with fighting and the drama anymore that is why i choose to go to rehab to get clean so i can continue my life as i have once before done. if my question is not clear can someone that is able to answer my question contact me at 910-213-7579 please? on the 17th of november i am entering this program on the strict basis of getting my self clean. im not there to make any friends or enemys but i do have many more question convering my stay at the dart cherry progam and to be quiet honest i cant get a answer that is clear enough to my standards of thinking. i have talked with my probation officer i have talked with my task manager lewis croom and i have also called dart cherry personally and still after two months of trying to figure out a clear answer to my concerns i dont have one. i am really looking forward to getting my life on tract it might not be easy but thats ok because i for one have lived a tough life as a 21 year old man just trying to make it in life as a normal citizen. so again please i understand this is a werid and most likely stupid reply , but i need some answers so that is why i choose to leave this message for whom ever its read by, thank you and have a wonderful day.

  3. David says:

    Apparently the time only counts as parole/probation as individuals are sent there only through such orders from a judge or as a result of a parole hearing. Often parolees are under the impression that they are there to help prepare for their transition to society, but find the standards for completing the program are based almost solely on compliance to the mercurial daily rule structure which changes from shift to shift, staff member to staff member. Residents are confined directly to specific areas on the property and within the buildings basically by imaginary lines which move throughout the day, the crossing of which (intentionally or not) can be considered absconding.
    Note that it is also listed in the resident’s bill or rights that treatment my be discontuned/refused by the resident at any time and is presented as the resident has the right to leave, this is not the case as that rule only applies to individual treatment by counseling staff. Even that can be assessed as noncompliance and be presented as grounds for violation of conditions of parole/probation. Residents are often reminded that there are no fences and that they may leave at any time they like. This is done in an “acting as if” manner. “As if” the conditions of probation/parole don’t apply.
    The previous being considered and understanding that there is a treatment curriculum, the basic pracitum employed by the staff is based on the mantra (paraphrased),”You need to think of your actions in the terms of being out on the street or in prison because that’s where you’re headed.”
    In consideration, and oppostion, to an interrview in the Goldsboro News-Argus with DART PPO Stephanie Rose, security issues are minimal. Because of the assessment process in which residents are considered “willin and suitable” for the program, true physical intervention is rarely needed. PPO’s are only on the facilty during normal weekday business hours druing which they primarily attend to administrative duties (paperwork), although they are on call 24/7. There are no security personell after hours and there are no security cameras. Often evening and night shifts are attended by a single person (per building with app. 100 men in each building) and most often that single staff member is female.
    Some residents also have outstanding charges to be addessed upone their release and are told that their actions at DART Cherry will be considered by the court as will be documented in the resident’s completion packet. However, Community Corrections officials have stated that Division of Community Corrections does not participate in defense and have denied the existence of the completion packet and have stated that only confirmation of completion they receive the the compleltion letter whcih is delivered by the offender. This is reported as is documented in emails from DCC officials.
    Although there is much discussion about various types of community services and aftercare, DART make little to no effort in making appointments or establishing contacts with such services for the residents, even in something as simple as providing phone numbers. Residents are discourgaed from pursuing such matters with staff as staff may become annoyed and take disciplinary action against the resident for “disrespecting a staff member.” And indictment for this offense may easily lead to the loss of all privileges (including phone, going outside, smoke deck, etc.) until further notice. Some residents find themselve only able to move between the bathroom and their room (exluding classes and meals) for weeks on end.
    In closing: For the length of the stay, be it 30 or 90 days, the resident is highly restricted in both movement and action by the highly structured environment.

    • Can you tell me about the punishment for doing things thereof? I have been told they make you polish door knobs with your arm straight for 8 hours if you bend your arm you must start over., an that if you have a foul mouth they make you wear a toilet seat around your neck and a sign saying I am a potty mouth.I am a 32 year old man an will try the dart program out first myself next is there anything else I need to prepare myself for. Is the program easy hard or what? Do they have a milatry time approach or what? If you could answer these gor me thanks

  4. troy says:

    I graduated from that place and yes all that is true but hey you have more freedom than jail you can were youre own clothes and you could smoke when i was there but not anymore good luck ive benn clean for two years from crack and weed

  5. sheila woods says:

    My son is at Dart Cherry in Goldsboro N.C . He graduates today. But doesn’t get out until May 20th . I am worried about what he is going to do after he gets out. Do they have a program to help them with their transition back into the real world so they don’t relapse ?

  6. Nicole foster says:

    Can u smoke in this place I have a friend going there on the 24th

    • marcus says:

      He’ll no you can’t smoke there I went there last year tell him it’s a lot of rules and structure people talk bad about it but it changed my life when I was there it was good family orientated but don’t go there for avoid jail time go there to change because it’s either failure or success!!!!! No in between that’s a promise!!!

  7. Mike says:

    I have a 18 year old friend there for 90 days & I have seen only positive changes since he arrived there 36 days ago. I am Proud of him for choosing to go & stay & praying he has a healthy, drug-free successful future.

  8. Dawn Danner says:

    Can u have contact w loved ones while there?

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