Warren County Treatment Court receiving accreditation

Warren County’s treatment court has earned the courthouse a visit from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice. Justice Max Baer will present a certificate of accreditation for Warren County Treatment Court to President Judge Maureen Skerda at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in the Main Courtroom.

The three-year accreditation recognizes the program for compliance with nationally-recognized best practices and standards established by the Supreme Court.

The court approved an accreditation program for adult drug and DUI courts in 2011. Only programs that have been in operation for at least one year may apply.

Warren County’s program started in 2010 due to Skerda’s efforts, District Attorney Rob Greene said. But it didn’t really take off until 2014.

The program relies upon both the judges and the district attorney’s office to make the decisions that allow defendants to enter.

In 2013, the county had three defendants enter the program.

Greene, who took office in 2014, said the program is now up to 17 participants.

“Treatment court does not give a defendant a pass for his or her crimes, but rather provides intensive participation in the program to help drug- and alcohol-addicted defendants get the help they need to live a sober and productive life,” Greene said. “Defendants that participate in treatment court have been very successful and we have had a number of graduations, however, a few do not make it.”

Not every participant avoids jail time, but sentences are generally far shorter than they would be through the regular court process.

“I make it very clear that if they cannot make it in treatment court, it is a last resort at the county level and I will be asking the court for incarceration at a state correctional institution,” Greene said. Final sentencing decisions are up to the judges.

Sentence court saves the county money. “The cost of the program is about $4,000 per inmate, compared to about $20,000 per year if that same individual is incarcerated,” Greene said. “Studies have shown the recidivism rate for treatment court graduates is less than 20 percent, as compared to a recidivism rate of close to 50 percent for those who do not participate in treatment court.”

“Thanks to Judge Skerda and the treatment court team, treatment court in Warren County has been very successful thus far and is growing in participation,” Greene said. “We are helping Warren County residents with addictions to make this a better community to live and raise a family.”