Working with Criminal Justice Entities

Date Issued: November 3, 2014

RECIPIENT: All Certified and/or Funded ProvidersLocal Governmental Units (LGUs)

PURPOSE: This Local Services Bulletin has been developed to clarify provider responsibilities when working with Criminal Justice entities (Drug Courts, Parole, Probation, Department of Corrections, etc.) in providing chemical dependency treatment services to individuals served by these systems.

BACKGROUND: OASAS continues to work closely with the New York State Office of Court Administration and State Criminal Justice (CJ) agencies to advance understanding of the differing but critically important roles played by chemical dependence (CD) treatment providers and CJ agencies to ensure quality of care for those served.

CD treatment providers have long-standing partnerships with various agencies and programs in the CJ system. These partnerships have been vitally important to the individuals served, the systems and the community at large in achieving goals to reduce criminal behavior and alcohol/drug use.

Over the years, the CJ system has sought to work more closely with treatment providers to achieve these goals. Drug Treatment Courts, DWI Courts, as well as Department of Corrections, Parole, and Probation programs are examples of these types of partnerships. These efforts can be very effective in helping people with their chemical dependence or disorders and in reducing criminal behavior and other problems. The keys to these positive results are education, cooperation and communication, while each agency maintains their respective role in the process (treatment, prosecution, defense, supervision, the judge, probation/parole, etc.) OASAS encourages and supports efforts to work together with the CJ system to help people with chemical dependence or disorder problems achieve the best possible outcomes.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Persons may be referred to an OASAS certified program as an alternative to incarceration, enrollment in a drug court, or as a required referral to treatment as a result of a DWI arrest. These referrals may be as a result of a plea agreement, condition of probation/parole, or a part of an alternative to incarceration program.

The CD treatment program has regulatory responsibility to make an objective initial admission determination and a level of care determination, including a diagnosis; and to develop an objective individualized treatment plan and discharge plan, based on the information obtained in direct interaction with the individual and from other reliable sources. It is essential to recognize that these treatment determinations and plans may be revised/changed based on new clinical information that comes to light during the course of delivery of treatment services. The CD treatment program has responsibility to report back to the CJ agency on the individual’s progress, attendance, and compliance (consistent with lawful consents for disclosure).

The treatment program is required to perform each of these functions, deliver appropriate treatment services, and take appropriate clinical actions based on these determinations regardless of the referral source of the individual and any determinations made prior to the individual’s entry into the current chemical dependence treatment program. In some cases, a court may order an individual into a level of care where the individual’s needs do not match the admission criteria for that program. In those instances, the provider should make attempts to educate the court about the clinical needs of the individual and what a more appropriate level of care would be. If after these attempts, the court still maintains the order to that level of care and contingent on an assessment that the individual would not be endangered by the court-ordered placement, the provider should admit the individual so as not to place the individual at risk for violating the order. The provider should then contact its respective field office and OASAS Counsel’s office for further guidance.

OASAS programs should work closely and cooperate with CJ partners in ensuring that treatment decisions are made based upon the person’s needs and the program’s standards. Ongoing dialogue with the CJ system and providing it with education about treatment, clinically based level of care/length of stay decisions, and regulatory requirements can help CJ systems understand the role that only a certified treatment provider can fill.Additionally, CD treatment staff must realize their limits in determining criminal justice status of individuals served based on clinical progress or lack thereof. Under no circumstances should treatment program staff recommend an individual's incarceration, continued probation or parole, or any other CJ action which is outside of a treatment provider’s purview. The provider’s role/responsibility is limited to providing appropriate progress reports in the treatment of the individual's chemical dependence to the referring CJ entity.