Alaska Therapeutic Court Projects

Alaska Therapeutic Court Projects

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Winter 2002). "Alaska Therapeutic Court Projects." Alaska Justice Forum 18(4): 3. Several therapeutic court projects in varying stages of implementation by the Alaska Court System in Anchorage and Juneau are described in this article, and the therapeutic justice model is compared with other justice theories in operation in the U.S. justice system, including retributive justice, restorative justice, and community justice.

The mental health court project discussed in this Forum issue is one of several therapeutic court projects in Alaska now in varying stages of implementation. Among the others are:

Felony Drug Court, Anchorage (Judge Stephanie Joannides). This court, which is partially grant-funded, has been in operation since June 2001. It handles felony cases in which the actual charge is a drug offense or a property offense with a drug problem underlying the offense. Defendants participate in a three-phase program of treatment as part of the sentence. At this time, no defendants have yet finished their sentences under this court.

Felony DWI Court, Anchorage (Judge Stephanie Joannides). This court, which has been created and funded by the state legislature, began at the end of 2001. It will focus on defendants with multiple driving-while-intoxicated offenses.

Wellness Court, Anchorage and Juneau (Judges James Wannamaker and Peter Froehlich). These courts handle misdemeanor cases primarily involving repeat drunk driving offenders. As part of sentencing conditions, defendants agree to use Naltrexone, a prescription medication that reduces craving for alcohol. The Wellness Court has been in operation for three years.

All of these courts depend heavily on continuous monitoring of defendants and attempt to consolidate all cases for a particular defendant under the one judge. There are other court projects in the planning stages that will also draw upon a therapeutic model, including another felony-level alcohol court in Bethel. Table 1 provides a comparison of justice theories and defines the components of each, including therapeutic justice, upon which these courts are based.