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In Maryland as well as across the United States, there has been a recent push for sending people with substance abuse disorder to treatment instead of jail for nonviolent offenses. This process isn’t nearly as simple as a judge’s decision; there are many steps involved, and many parties that have to approve the assignment.

What Determines Eligibility

Before a judge can make that decision, a person has to be deemed medically and legally “amenable to treatment.” Several factors weigh into this, including whether someone has been exposed to treatment in the past, and whether they are willing to accept treatment. Further, it needs to be determined that the person is not a threat to public safety, and whether there has been sufficient punishment to fit their crimes.

Treatment Process for Convicted Persons

The general process was nicely presented in a recent article in the Carroll County Times, but is outlined below.

  • Person is convicted of a crime.
  • Their defense attorney submits a blank order to a judge to start the “amenability to treatment evaluation” process.
  • If the judge approves it, the defendant proceeds to evaluation.
  • Evaluator from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or another qualified professional assesses the candidate with a series of questions (for example, why someone wants treatment now, their behavior since incarceration, if they have had previous prior experience with treatment programs, and comprehension of their actions and their consequences).
  • Report goes back to the defense attorney, and sometimes the judge and prosecutor.
  • The case is argued in court, but ultimately the decision rests with the judge.

A Positive Step

While this process is extensive, it is certainly set up in a way that place those who would benefit from addiction treatment in a much better position to get the help they need. For more information on the benefits of treatment versus jail, click here.

Help for Those Who Need It

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drug or alcohol use disorder, call the professionals at Serenity Acres Treatment Center at 1-800-203-2024 to determine if inpatient treatment is right for you.