Program aims to keep addicts, mental health cases out of court - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Program aims to keep addicts, mental health cases out of court

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Keeping small-time drug offenders and people with mental health issues out of the court system and getting them into treatment-- that's the idea behind a program in Burlington called "Rapid Intervention Community Court" or RICC.

People charged with lower level crimes broker a deal that involves community service and treatment. In exchange, the charges are not filed.

"It really is a public health strategy of intervention, or coordination, of linking people to services at the appropriate time and giving them the incentive to do well in the community," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.

Donovan says recidivism rates are being reduced. And he's been advocating for the program across the country. He'll sit on a panel to talk about it at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver later this month.

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