Last week Shea led a North Carolina Judicial College class on DWI Procedures for Judges and Magistrates. One day of the program included a field trip to DART Cherry in Goldsboro, North Carolina’s substance abuse treatment program for male probationers. The group was kind enough to let me tag along. Today’s post gives a short trip report and addresses some frequently asked questions related to DART Cherry. Continue reading
Tag Archives: DART
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.
A longstanding lament of the corrections community in North Carolina has been the lack of a residential substance abuse treatment center for female probationers and parolees. In other words, there is no DART-Cherry for women. (DART stands for Drug Alcohol Recovery Treatment.) DART-Cherry, for those who may not know, is a 300-bed facility in Goldsboro that offers chemical dependency treatment services for probationers and for certain parolees upon their release from prison. There are two program tracks at DART-Cherry, a 28-day program and a 90-day program. A third of the beds at the facility are dedicated to the 28-day program, which is geared primarily toward impaired driving offenders. The remaining 200 beds are devoted to the 90-day program which, for Structured Sentencing purposes, is a “residential program” under G.S. 15A-1340.11(8). That means it may only be ordered as a probation condition at initial sentencing for those sentenced to intermediate punishment. It may also be added later for community-sentenced offenders once they have violated probation. G.S. 15A-1344(a). You can learn more about DART-Cherry—and many other local and state-wide community corrections programs—in the North Carolina Sentencing Commission’s outstanding annual Compendium of Community Corrections Programs, authored by David Lagos of the Commission staff. Attorneys and judges thinking about DART-Cherry placement for certain defendants might also want to review DOC’s criteria for client appropriateness for the program to make sure the defendant is eligible.
Many people thought it was a shame that there was no analogous program for women—especially when DOC data show that a particularly high percentage of females in the correctional system are in need of substance abuse treatment. Some thought it was more than just a shame; more than once I’ve heard people wonder out loud if the lack of a program for women violated the Equal Protection Clause.
Recent news from the Department of Correction has made that question an academic one. Early March memos from the Secretary of Correction and the Director of the Division of Community Corrections have announced the impending opening of the Black Mountain Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Center for Women. According to the announcements, the center will offer a program similar to the 90-day program at DART-Cherry. It is scheduled to open in early April, gradually filling to its 50-bed capacity by the end of spring. Contact numbers are available in the linked memos if you need additional information.
To the extent that the programming at Black Mountain is similar to that at DART-Cherry, I imagine that time spent there will likewise qualify as “confinement” under G.S. 15-196.1, and will thus count for credit against a suspended sentence. State v. Lutz, 177 N.C. App. 140 (2006) (also discussed here).
On an unrelated note, thank you to all of you who posted comments or sent emails in response to my recent post on restitution to government agencies. You gave me exactly the type of information I was looking for, and I’m working on a short paper that will hopefully answer your questions.