Drug diversion programs are not new but they are becoming increasingly popular in Arizona and other states. These programs provide mental health and substance abuse help for defendants who may otherwise end up behind bars.
Pima County in Arizona became one of the most recent places in the state to adopt drug diversion programs. A report in Tucson.com noted federal grant money is funding new programs from January 2019.
The report stated nearly $3 million in federal grant money was awarded to the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
Pima County is setting up a misdemeanor problem-solving program to provide low-level offenders with mental health and substance use treatment, as well as other services for those at risk.
Tucson.com reported the country lacked a method of providing services and drug treatment to people arrested on non-drug-related misdemeanor charges.
Although the Attorney’s Office provided programs for people arrested on felony drug charges, there was no equivalent program for repeat misdemeanor offenders suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues.
The Consolidated Misdemeanor Problem-Solving Court program that began in January changed that.
Chief Deputy Pima County Attorney Amelia Cramer explained there are few cases related solely to drug possession in the misdemeanor court but the court deals with a considerable number of crimes linked to homelessness.
The court deals with trespassing, urinating in public and other crimes. Often the perpetrators have mental health and behavioral health issues.
It is often beneficial for low-level defendants to go into drug diversion programs. Admission to the programs is not automatic. Applicants undergo an initial screening. They must have no previous felony drug-related convictions and no past convictions for violent offenses.
If a defendant completes the program successfully, the Treatment Assessment Screening Centers will recommend that the charges be dismissed.
If a defendant fails to finish the program as intended, TASC will recommend that the trial court reinstate the prosecution.
As well as drug division programs, many jurisdictions in Arizona have mental health courts. At the Garcia Law Firm, we can help channel people into diversion programs. Please call us for a consultation at (602) 340-1999.