King County Drug Diversion Court graduation set for Wednesday

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Drug court grad talks about what the program meant
to his life. His 12 year old son was there to support him.
On Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 9am, Anna will take the 20-foot walk to the front of E-942, the Presiding Courtroom at the King County Courthouse. 

The short walk represents the very long journey to recovery through King County’s nationally-recognized Drug Diversion Court. It is the real chance to start over.

She will be joined by eight others who overcame substance abuse and found support through community services providers to get their lives back on track. Parents and children know the power and potential of success.

“Graduation is so important and so moving,” said Judge Dean Lum, who presides over Drug Diversion Court. 
“People share stories of how they got here and thank the people who help them recover. It’s not unusual to have a graduate thank a police officer for arresting them!”

Successful completion of the KCDDC results in dismissal of felony(s). Since the program’s inception, there have been 2,516 graduates, representing more than 2,643 dismissed felonies. (Data on the number of cases dismissed by drug court graduation only goes back to 2002.)

Drug Diversion Court reflects change in King County.
  • 50% of current participants identify heroin or other opioids as their primary drug of choice. This represents a 127% increase since 2010.

A 2017 Seattle Public Safety Survey identifies car prowls, residential burglary and property crimes as three of the top five public safety concerns.

Many property crimes are committed to support an underlying substance use disorder (SUD). Of the approximately 330 participants who are currently active, 61% are in KCDDC on felony property crimes.

  • 47% of current KCDDC participants are people of color. In order to ensure culturally responsive treatment, KCDDC contracts with culturally specific agencies.
  • At intake, 63% of current KCDDC participants endorsed mental health symptoms and 47% reported a formal diagnosis. Every participant is screened for mental health symptoms and referred to services, including mental health counseling, as appropriate. KCDDC has access to both outpatient and residential integrated co-occurring disorders treatment.
  • 28% of current drug court participants are young adults ages 18 to 26. KCDDC implemented a special treatment program for this age group in 2010 with an emphasis on setting goals, community involvement, and faster progression through the program.
  • 60% of current KCDDC participants were experiencing homelessness at program entry. On-site housing case managers assist participants with next step and permanent housing and access to move-in costs.

Through community partnerships, KCDDC provides expedited no-cost dental referrals, clothing vouchers, on-site Medicaid sign-ups, and access to paid vocational training programs.

The King County Drug Diversion Court (KCDDC) Program began in August 1994 as the twelfth drug court in the country. Currently, there are drug courts in every state and 3,100 nationwide.

The mission of King County Drug Diversion Court (KCDDC) is to ensure community safety and empower participants to rebuild their lives by combining the resources of the criminal justice system, substance use treatment and other community service providers.

--Jamie Holter


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