By Molly Bronner
FRAMINGHAM – Approaching its 3rd year anniversary, the Recovery Court in Framingham is growing, and showing success, said those involved.
This despite the fact that half of of the court’s existence has been during the COVID pandemic.
Thursday night, the Framingham Police Advisory Committee hosted a Zoom presentation on the recovery court with Judge Jennifer Stark and Framingham Police Lieutenant Robert Downing.
Framingham’s Recovery Court, formerly known as the Drug Court, is a specialty court that provides individuals dealing with serious alcohol or substance abuse with an alternative to imprisonment.
It began in October of 2018, and while based in Framingham, the court is not limited to Framingham residents.
Participants to the program are typically referred by members of the court system, and are then evaluated to see if the program is the right fit for them.
Completion of the program takes a minimum of 18 months, but can last longer.
This program is structured into four phases, with each phase lasting a minimum of three months.
Each phase in the program offers more freedoms to the individual than the previous phase.
The Recovery Court provides participants with intensive supervised probation as well as
treatment for their substance abuse. The program has a team of clinicians, police officers,
defense attorneys, and probation officers.
The clinician is the only member being paid, while the rest are volunteers.
The program’s overall goal is to improve the quality of life for its participants by helping them
succeed without any substance use. The program also helps to keep individuals out of the prison system.
“Jail is not our first option,” said Lt. Downing, the Framingham Police Department’s court prosecutor.
So far, the court has been able to find success. There have been about 20 participants, with 2 of them already graduating from the program.
The pandemic has limited their progress, since the court could not be in person and jury trials were not held.
The court is a positive step towards improving the justice system, said those involved to the Committee Thursday night.
“We’re living in an exciting time because there’s real change happening in the area of law
enforcement and criminal justice,” said Judge Stark.
Recovery Court is held Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m. at Framingham District Court on Concord Street.
Next month, the Police Advisory Committee will be hosting a presentation on the Veterans Court, another specialty court in the area.
Molly Bronner is a 2021 Summer SOURCE intern. She is a student at Framingham High School.