Program Goals/Target Population
The Sanction Treatment Opportunity Progress (STOP) Drug Diversion Program is a drug court program that was designed to reduce the increasing backlog of cases involving drug offenders in Oregon’s Multnomah County. The program focuses on providing treatment services for offenders facing first-offense drug charges. Implemented in 1991, the STOP Drug Diversion Program is the second-oldest drug court in the country.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office determines if a defendant is eligible for participation based on arrest charge, criminal history, probation status, additional charges, status at other jurisdictions (holds or retainers), and previous participation in the program. The STOP Program targets defendants charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of more than an ounce of marijuana as well as other drug-related charges, such as tampering with drug records (i.e., forging prescriptions for pharmaceutical drugs). A defendant may still be eligible for the program if they face additional, non–drug related criminal charges, as long as participation in the diversion program does not interfere with conditions of probation for those other charges.
However, defendants are ineligible if they face distribution of controlled substance or manufacture of controlled substance charges, if they have any prior convictions for violent offenses, or if they have previously participated in the STOP Program but failed to complete the requirements.
The STOP Program uses a postplea model, meaning participants agree to plead guilty to the eligible drug charge before entering the program. If participants successfully complete the program, the charges can be dropped and the participants can apply to have them removed from their criminal history record. After a defendant is found eligible to participate in the program, they attend an orientation session at the Metropolitan Public Defender’s office. It is ultimately up to the defendant to decide to participate in the diversion program or take the case to trial.
Defendants who decide to participate in the STOP Program attend another orientation session at InAct, a private, not-for-profit agency that provides all outpatient treatment services to program participants (referrals to inpatient and methadone maintenance clinics are made to other service providers when necessary). Participants meet with admission counselors to create a treatment schedule, where they are assigned to a group for group counseling and to a counselor for individual therapy sessions. Admission counselors also schedule appointments for acupuncture treatments, an intake assessment with the participant’s counselor, and a physical examination with a naturopathic doctor. After 2 weeks, participants appear in the drug court to officially declare if they wish to continue treatment or if they decline participation.
For those that continue in the program, participants are required to make court appearances before the drug court judge. During court appearances, the judge is informed of the participant’s progress through reports from the participant, the treatment liaison from InAct, and the District Attorney's Office. The judge provides encouragement for program participants who comply with treatment requirements and imposes sanctions against those who are not in compliance. If a participant does not appear before court as required, a bench warrant is issued by the judge.
Drug court judges can use a variety of graduated sanctions, which include the sit sanction (participants are required to sit in court and observe the day’s proceedings), the forest work camp (participants still receive treatment while they do 2 to 3 weeks of conservation work at a local camp), a jail sanction (where a sentence can range from 1 day to 7 days), and community service (an alternative for women to the forest work camp because there is no camp for females). One option that judges use is called the “impose but suspend” rule. Under this rule, the judge imposes a certain sanction but it is suspended until the participant’s next court date. If the participant is doing better or completed specific tasks required by the judge, the sanction is not imposed. If the participant has not done better, the sanction is imposed.
The program uses what is known as a “STOP clock,” which is the amount of treatment days a participant has been in the program. To graduate, participants must spend 365 days in the program, but if the participant absconds or a bench warrant is issued, the STOP clock is stopped. When a participant returns to the program, the STOP clock starts again.
The STOP Program has three phases of treatment that vary in length, depending on the needs of the participant. During phase 1, participants are required to attend three group counseling sessions and three acupuncture treatments per week, as well as monthly individual meetings with their personal counselor. During phase 2, participants are typically required to attend two group counseling sessions per week. They may stop attending acupuncture treatment but they must still meet weekly with their counselors. By phase 3, participants must attend one group counseling session per week as well as one individual counseling session per month. In addition to treatment requirements, participants are randomly given a urinalysis (UA) drug testing at least once a week (participants are required to call the “UA line” to see if their number has been chosen for the day).
To graduate from the program, participants need to complete 365 days in treatment, have six consecutive clean UA tests, and get a recommendation from their individual counselor. Graduation proceedings take place at the drug court. Aftercare is not required, but is available to participants who have graduated from the program. Graduates may attend as many group counseling sessions as needed and continue to meet with their individual counselor. They can also attend educational classes and receive mental and physical health services, provided by InAct.
The STOP Program’s team members include the judge, the treatment coordinator/court liaison, the public defender, the public defender’s legal assistant, and the District Attorney's Office.