WHITE PLAINS, NY — Westchester District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. who campaigned on a platform to create coordinated drug treatment courts in Westchester County, announced that Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers are now designated as “Hub” Courts.
The “Hub” Court designation will make drug treatment courts accessible to individuals who suffer from alcohol and drug dependency and military veterans who have had run-ins with the law. Their cases can now be transferred to the “Hub” Courts.
“During my campaign for District Attorney and now under my administration, it was important to keep the promise that these courts would be created to offer non-violent offenders and military veterans’ access to intensive court-supervised treatment and tailored services that might not be available through their own town and village courts. The goal of these drug treatment courts is to reduce incarceration and recidivism and hopefully give these individuals a path to a new life” said District Attorney Scarpino.
The Westchester County Drug Court Enhancement Project, under the direction of Ninth Judicial District Administrative Judge Alan Scheinkman, will coordinate the efforts of Westchester County drug court programs currently operating in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers.
Supported by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the New York State Court System’s Ninth Judicial District, which encompasses Westchester County, is launching this new drug court initiative in the County to focus on the unique needs of two populations: individuals with opioid use disorder and justice-involved military veterans. The Westchester County Drug Court Enhancement Project aims to enhance the delivery of clinical and other services to these target populations, including the provision of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), where appropriate, to Westchester County Drug Treatment Court participants.
The use of MAT in addition to traditional forms of treatment such as behavioral counseling can be vital in ensuring better outcomes for individuals with an opioid addiction, who now make up over fifty percent of those enrolled in the County’s drug treatment courts.
In addition to aiding veterans on the road to recovery via access to treatment for substance abuse, PTSD and other combat-related disorders, the new Veteran Treatment Tracks will provide a range of support services to address associated problems, such as unemployment and homelessness. To help ensure the success of participants, the courts will incorporate a core element of many of its counterparts ─ the utilization of peer mentors, military veterans who volunteer their time to offer court participants support and motivation as they navigate the legal process and the challenges of re-assimilating to civilian life.
The SAMSHA grant, totaling $971,736 over a three-year period, will also support personnel, training and other needs related to the development of a peer mentor initiative to help military veterans enrolled in the County’s drug treatment court programs re-adjust to civilian life and get back on track, as well as efforts to increase participation rates in court-mandated treatment programs among justice-involved veterans. The grant will also fund an evaluation study of the County’s treatment/veterans court programs.
The initiative will kick off in October, upon disbursement of the SAMSHA funds to the District.
The new drug court initiatives are a collaborative effort of the New York State Court System, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the defense bar, the Westchester County Executive’s Office, Westchester County Department of Probation, local treatment providers, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and other veterans’ services and support agencies and organization.