For a better understanding of The Second Chance Court please watch this video. For more information please read our mission statement below along with the contact information for Stephanie Price and The District Attorney's Office
This Court of Common Pleas initiative was established in 2017 under the direction of the Honorable John P. Capuzzi, Sr. in conjunction with the Office of the District Attorney and Delaware County Council in direct response to the opioid crisis which plagues the county and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole.
More recently our communities have experienced a resurgence and a rise in methamphetamine and cocaine abuse cases and expanded the program to include these individuals, as well as the opioid users and those with any other substance use disorders.
Identify those persons who, at the time of their arrest, are suffering from any substance use disorders and provide an immediate opportunity for their voluntary entry into a treatment program.
In speaking with those persons recovering from substance use disorders, as well as treatment providers, all emphatically emphasized that intervention and treatment at the earliest possible time offers the greatest pathway for successful and long-term recovery.
From the time of the arrest or a summons being issued until the time the offender first appears before a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas typically four to six months have passed. During this time, the Court is without power or means to offer meaningful treatment options to the substance abuser. By entering the Second Chance Court Program in close proximity to the arrest, the offender agrees to allow the Court of Common Pleas to address all bail issues so that every necessary rehabilitation modality may be put in place. It is important to understand that by entering the program the offender does not give up his or her trial rights, nor are they precluded from filing any appropriate legal motions. The ultimate disposition of the matter follows the normal case management track, while eligible offenders are then identified and offered expedited drug treatment court placement, if they so choose.
The program was originally funded, in major part, by a two-year grant to the Delaware County Criminal Justice Advisory Board from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. This funding allowed the court to employ a pre-trial bail coordinator, Stephanie Price, who oversees and administers the program, as well as regularly communicates with the participants and providers to ensure compliance with the treatment recommendations and follow-up care. Although the grant has expired, the Court through the Delaware County Office of Human Services, has continued to fund the program in light of its demonstrated success.
Following the arrest, there are several methods employed to seek out those suffering from a substance opioid or other use disorder and who may benefit from the program. Law enforcement or the bail interviewer may alert the Magisterial District Judge at the time of the Preliminary Arraignment (this is where the offender is informed of the charges and bail is set), or the Magisterial District Judge, in evaluating the case and reviewing the information provided, may determine the person needs to be assessed. Additionally, our coordinator reviews the intake list from George W. Hill Correctional Facility and all arraignments on a daily basis looking for possible candidates. GWHCF staff can also identify persons to be assessed. Finally, the e ofdefender, himself or herself, or the attorney for the defendant, or the family or friend of the defendant may propose the defendant for the program. The referral is immediately transmitted to the coordinator.
Once a person is identified as a possible candidate, the coordinator will advise the Office of the District Attorney and the Office of the Public Defender, or private counsel, if known, as no one is admitted to the program without the agreement of both the DA and defense counsel. It is extremely important that the offender fully understand his or her rights and recognize that this is a voluntary program.
The candidate must be:
At least 18 years of age;
A resident of Delaware County, as such is necessary for funding, or have private insurance;
Charged with a crime related to the substance use disorder (possession, shoplifting, etc.);
Be a non-violent offender (should not have current or past charges involving crimes of violence, although individual consideration will be given to each applicant on a case-by-case basis);
New charges with a probation/parole violation will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Following the preliminary arraignment and after the MDJ sets bail, if the offender is incarcerated at GWHCF and has been identified as a possible candidate for the program, the coordinator will arrange a substance use disorder level of care assessment. A Master’s level clinician will review all relevant information and meet with the offender to assess the level of treatment deemed appropriate under national and state guidelines.
If the offender voluntarily opts to enter the program, the District Attorney and the offender’s attorney will sign the agreement and forward it to Judge John Capuzzi. Judge Capuzzi will issue an Order placing the offender in the program. Judge Capuzzi, in conjunction with the coordinator, monitors the offender’s progress and addresses any deviations from the treatment regimen.
If the assessment recommends in-patient rehabilitation treatment, the offender will be transferred directly from GWHCF to the approved rehabilitation facility.
If the assessment recommends intensive outpatient treatment, a hearing will be held to modify the bail, where appropriate, to allow the release with specific conditions, including the treatment component.
At the preliminary arraignment, if the offender is not incarcerated, but is determined to be a candidate for the program, the offender is instructed to report to the Access Center at either Crozer Chester Medical Center or Delaware County Memorial Hospital by 6:45 a./m. the next business day for an assessment. Both the Access Center and the coordinator are immediately notified of the referral by the MDJ staff.
Those persons who are receiving intensive outpatient treatment are required to report to the coordinator, Stephanie Price, on a weekly basis to review their progress.
If an offender fails to follow the treatment program or fails to meet with the coordinator, a bench warrant is issued and a hearing is held before Judge Capuzzi within 72 hours after the offender’s apprehension or surrender in order to determine how to best get the person back on track. Rehabilitation and needed treatment is the goal of the Second Chance Court Program and the focus of the violation hearing.
The program has enjoyed appreciable success. We have been able to get many of the participants into long-term treatment and all have been eligible for intensive outpatient treatment. Of course, success depends on the individual being committed to the program and equally interested in treatment and sobriety.
Currently, two of our participants are now certified recovery specialists helping others. They are beacons of light and hope.
The fact that an offender participated in the program does not alter the final disposition of the case, nor does it abrogate any of the offender’s trial rights. The offender has several options, as follows:
Possible entry into the drug treatment court;
Negotiated guilty plea; or
Open guilty plea.
The goal should always be for the offender’s attorney to do what is in the best interest for the long-term recovery of the client with the substance use disorder.
Why is the program only open to Delaware County residents?
Unfortunately, the Medicaid system in Pennsylvania does not allow out-of-county residents to receive funding for treatment. There is no mechanism for Delaware County to be reimbursed for non-resident treatment. Non-county residents with private insurance are eligible with pre-approval by their insurer.
What advantage does an individual get by entering this program?
First and foremost are treatment and rehabilitation at earliest time when most likely to break the addiction cycle. Second, for those who are successful in the short-term treatment program and continue onto intensive outpatient treatment, the final case disposition takes this into consideration.
Am I guaranteed entry into the drug treatment court?
The simple answer is no. Each person must submit an application which is then reviewed by the drug treatment court team. There are many advantages to entering the drug treatment court. For more information, go to the Delaware County District Attorney’s website.
Why must an offender be assessed by the Crozer Health System?
Crozer-Chester Medical Center has been designated as a Center of Excellence in treating substance use disorders by Pennsylvania authorities. There are dedicated facilities and well-trained professionals whose singular goal is treatment and rehabilitation. The partnership between Crozer and the County of Delaware has enabled offenders to get expedited assessments and treatment, which is in the best interest of the substance user, whom all in the program seek to help.
What are the dedicated facilities?
There is an access center and in-patient and outpatient treatment facilities at Crozer’s main campus in Chester and at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Upper Darby. Public transportation is readily available to each facility.
Is this program limited to opioid users?
No. When the program began in March 2017, the county and state were overrun with an out-of-control opioid epidemic and the program was originally set up to reach those persons with an opioid use disorder. As our communities are now once again seeing an increase in other areas, the program has been adapted to meet the needs of those suffering from all substance use disorders.