The Veteran's treatment court staff impact on veterans in Arapahoe County

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The Veteran's treatment court staff impact on veterans in Arapahoe County
Rodriguez, Juan Jr.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of criminal justice)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Public Affairs, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Criminal justice
Committee Chair:
Huss, Sheila M.
Committee Members:
Pogrebin, Mark
Baldwin, Julie


The traditional court system in the United States has deep roots in retribution. Social norm have supported the justice system punishing individuals who perform acts that are considered detrimental to society. Individuals, institutions, and perceived and actual social conditions have perpetuated “tough on crime” messages and practices. Over time and most recently since the 1980s, there have been waves of opposition to punitive practices and concomitant support for treating accused and convicted offenders, with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation. Likewise, certain segments of the population have focused on crime prevention. The formation of specialty courts have allowed for offenders with specific needs to avoid an already stressed prison system. These individuals also receive the assistance they need to become functional and productive members of society. There are several studies that analyze recidivism and other factors that criminal justice practitoners use to judge success and failures. In this research, I analyze the staff who assist the probationers in the process of returning to society. The goal is to answer how these individuals assist the probationers in a positive or negative way. There are many other questions that can be considered as well. Is this impact long term? Can this process be duplicated? How can this process be improved?

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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OURT STAFF IMPACT ON VETERANS IN ARAPAHOE COUNTY by JUAN RODRIGUEZ JR. BACJ , Uni versity of Colorado Denver, 2017 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Criminal Justice 2018


ii This thesis for the Masters of Criminal Justice degree by Juan Rodriguez Jr. has been approved for the Criminal Justice Program by Sheila M. Huss, Chair Mark Pogrebin Julie Ba ldwin Date: December 15, 2018


iii Rodriguez Jr., Juan (MCJ , Criminal Justice Program ) Thesis directed by Associate Professor Sheil a M. Huss ABSTRACT The traditional court system in th e United States has deep roots in retribution . Social norm have supported the justice system punish ing individuals who perform acts that are considered detrimental to society. Individuals, institutions, and perceived and actual social conditions have perpe tuated messages and practices . Over time and most recently since the 1980s, there have been waves of opposition to punitive practices and concomitant support for treating accused and convicted offenders, with the ultimate goal of rehabilit ation . Likewise, certain segments of the population have focused on crime prevention. The formation of special ty courts have allowed for offenders with specif ic needs to avoid an already stressed prison system. These individuals also receive the assistance they need to become functional and productive members of society. There are several studies that analyze recidivism and other factors that criminal justice practitoners use to judge success and failures. In this research, I analyze the staff who assist th e probationers in the process of returning to society. The goal is to answer how these individuals assist the probationers in a positive or negative way. There are many other questions that can be considered as well . Is this impact long term? Can this proc ess be duplicated? How can this process be improved? The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.


iv Approved: Dr. Sheil a M. Huss


v DEDICATION For my wife, Andrea. I would have never made it through this journey without your love, support, and devotion. Your selflessness will never be forgotten. For Dr. Sheila Huss. You were my instructor for my first class. You sponsored me for the d have never made it this far without your support and friendship. For Dr. Mark Pogrebin. You have challenged me over the years to search for answers. Your support and friendship have made me a better person. For my fellow veterans, you are not just a st atistic. You deserve to be listened to.


vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my very great appreciation to Dr. Sheila Huss, my research supervisor, for her guidance throughout this project. I am particularly grateful for the assistance giv en by Dr. Mark P o grebin for taking the time to assist me in refining my interview questions. Assistance provided by Dr. Julie Baldwin was greatly appreciated as well as she also helped to refine my interview questions. I would also like to thank the staff of the Court for enabling me to observe for the last year.


vii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. 1 II. MET HODS................................................................................................. Sample and Data Collec Observations.......... Strengths and Weaknesses of III. Judge and Colleag 24 33 IV. 39 REFRENCES ............................................................... .. 44


viii APPENDIX A . Veteran Offense B. VTC Path .. 49 C. Interview Questions .. 50 D. Consent Form... 53


What impact does Veteran's Treatment Court staff have on probationers? CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The United S tates criminal justice system has evolved over time. From our roots in the English Common Law system to the present, the punish ments for crimes has varied as well. As societal norms have evolved , society changes who is punished and how punish ments to violators are enforced ( Buckholtz & Marois, p. 2). Criminal justice has tradi tionally been punitive . The death penalty, mandatory pr ison sentencing, and three strikes laws are common examples of laws that are punitive in nature. In some areas of the criminal justice system , there has been movement towards treatment over punishment. As Andrews and Bonta (2010 , p. 39 For over 30 Increasing punitive measures have failed to reduce criminal recidivism and instead have led to a rapidly growing correctional system that has strained government budg ets. The inability of reliance on official punishment to deter crime is understandable within the context of the psychology of human conduct. However, this knowledge was largely ignored in the quest for harsher punishment. A better option for dealing with crime is to place greater effort on the rehabilitation of offenders Drug & Alcohol Court, Mental Health Court, and Veteran Treatment Courts are among the specialty courts in use today. According to, Aldridge, Ray, and Wales (2014 ) the number of special ty courts designed to deal with certain types of offenders has increased over the past 25 years. Specialty courts were started by local judges in different jurisdictions across the United States and later promoted by federal and other organized programs . R ecently, t here has been a


2 drastic increase in the number of Veterans Treatment Courts. Indeed, in the early part of the 21 st century, the number of VTCs has g rown substantially to more than 200 and is on pace to grow exponentially in a short period of tim e (Clark, 2015). T hese courts focus on problem solving as a way to manage the underlying issues that led to the crime as well as to reduce the stress placed on prisons and jails. Punishment is a secondary function of specialty courts . The first specialty courts were Drug & Alcohol C ourts which were founded in 1989 in Dade County, Florida (Wilson, Mitchell, & MacKenzie, 2006). Belenko (1998 , p. 4 ) articulated the aspirations of drug and alcohol courts: treatment/pub lic health systems epitomized by drug courts may offer considerable hope for a long term reduction in drug Put simply, t he goal was to solve many issues at once by implementing a treatment focused appro ach . More specifically Drug & Alcohol Courts should lessen the strain of prison and jail overcrowding by finding alternative s to institutionalization . A lternatives varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and include d a variety of strategies , but generally drug courts use probat ion and a treatment plan to facilitate probationer in sobriety. There are several va riations of how probation can be used in conjunction with Drug & Alcohol Courts . Drug & A lcohol courts should address the root problem of o ffending thereby minimizing recidivism and the threat to public safety that recidivism presents (Morgan , Mitchell, Thoen, Campion, Bolaños, Sustaíta, Henderson, S. , 2016). Less than a decade after the first Drug & Alcohol courts were established, Mental He alth C ourts were fir st established in Florida in 1997 (Castellano and Anderson, 2012) . According to Castellano and Anderson (2012), a series of events in Florida set the course for the rapid expansion of mental health courts in the United States. While onl y a handful of Mental Health


3 Courts were launched in the late 1990s, a few dozen were in place by 2003; and by 2010 , approximately 300 were operating in more than 40 states, involving tens of thousands of defendants (Fisler , 2015) . Baldwin (2015) ascertai ned that as a continuation of the specialized court movement, the criminal justice syste m created VTCs in light of the recognition that veterans in contact with the criminal justice system had specialized needs. esta blished in Buffalo, New York by Judge Robert T. Russell Jr. in January of 2008. At that time, the Honorabl e Robert Russell served on the Drug & Alcohol C ou rt and Mental Health Court. He notice d an increase in the number of vetera ns appearing on the docket. At the same time, several of his staff members, who were veterans themselves, were assisting vetera n defendants in D rug & Alcohol court. Judge Russell noticed this assistance was beneficial to the de fendant. He theorized that more could be done to ensure veterans were connected to specific resources they needed wh en facing criminal charges. By collaborating with local community resources, Judge Russell founded the first V Treatment C o urt. As Judge Russell continued his success with the first V eter Treatment C ourt, other jurisdictions began to notice, and the idea quickly spread. By 2010, there were 24 Veteran Treatmen t Courts; by 2012 there were 88; and currently there are 306 VTCs in the United States (Devoy, 2017). Judge Russell (2009 , p. 3 57 families in countless ways. Many returning veterans and their families cope with serious issues such as: alcohol and substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment, a nd strained relationships. Oftentimes, these serious issues go unaddressed, and many of the veterans end up Notably, Veteran s Treatment Courts include individuals who may be dealing with a multitude of issues.


4 The major ity of research on VTCs is quantitative and descriptive in nature . Typically, measuring participant completion (Yerramsetti, Simons, Coonan, & Stolar 2017 ) (Cartwright 2011) (Chessman, Broscious, Miller, & White 2015) . One recidivism rates 12% lower than the general population ( Yerramsetti, Simons, Coonan, & Stolar 2017 ) . This e ffect was present for at least three years after completi on of the program (Yerramsetti, Simons, Coonan, & Stolar 2017). Some research has compared the effectiveness of Baldwin (2015 ) examined 79 VTCs and found that both similarities and high variability across VTCs in areas of p olicy, structure, and procedure. The purpose of this research is to take a deeper to look beyond statistical success and better explore how the staff of success. This research lo oks a t the Arapahoe County Justice Center . Court staff and their impact on VTC clients has not been explored through the lens of criminal justice . Although it is one dimension of many impact outcomes, it is extremely important, as t he staff implement the treatment plans, work with clients, and work with one another to make The importance of better understanding VTCs cannot be under stated. The United States has combat veterans returning from all over the world on a daily basis. These combat veterans are returning with a number of issues , including PTSD (Watson 2016) . Non combat veterans also have experienced difficulties when they re turned from deployments and missions (Washousky , Washousky , Greenwood, & Taylor 2012) . V eterans who do not receive the assistance they need have a disproportionately high chance of being involved with the criminal system as they turn to alcohol and drugs t o cope with their challenges (Ungvarsky, Conaty, &


5 Bellflower 2 012) . rt has the tools to assist veterans if they do become involved with the system . Without this help, these veterans could not only end up institutionalized and ex perience additional difficulties, but they could commit suicide (Bruce 2010) . The United States has become a country that is constantly at war. This situation has created a crisis amongst our veterans. The current uneven access to appropriate mental healt h services that returning U.S. veterans encounter echoes the disparities in access to quality mental health servi Addressing the problem of inadequate access to quality mental health services is critical in any efforts to ref orming the U.S. health care system. Our findings suggest that mental health disparities are often a leading factor to the high suicide rates among veterans who experience depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Hester 2017 , p. 1 Literature Review There is some controversy with specialty courts. The issue of restorative justice as opposed to punitive justice has been discussed by Baldwin and Rukus (2014). Punitive justice leans more towards incarceration, while restorative justice focuses more on treatment and reintegration back into society. Drug courts, which VTCs are modeled after, have come under scholarly scrutiny. Opponents take issue with the costs. The limited availability of social and fiscal resources requires an analysis of the relations hip between a program's effectiveness and its costs (Kubiak, Roddy, Comartin, & Tillander, 2015). Advocates argue that, unlike traditional incarceration, drug courts can turn a criminal justice sanction into a beneficial intervention, resulting in reintegr ation. The issue of satisfying stakeholders is a prominent one. Similar to traditional courts, the stakeholder is the community as a whole. Restorative justice holds that stakeholder inclusivity is a vital ingredient in achieving positive outcomes and invo lves a variety


6 of stakeholders in the process, transforming the sanctioning ritual into an experience that benefits both individual and community stakeholders (Baldwin & Rukus, 2014). The community is represented at VTCs by several individuals. These indiv iduals include the community treatment providers, support personnel, the military community, victims, and legal professionals. One unique feature of VTCs is t he inclusion of the military community ( Totman 2013). In Arapahoe County, the veteran is represe nted at the pre court conference by a representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The mentor coordinator and the Douglas County Deputy are also veterans. The mentor coordinator is the individual who assigns mentors to those clientele who ask for one. Not all clientele ask for a mentor, and there are not enough mentors for each individual. Several of the mentors are veterans, as well. These perspectives add to the conversation about h ow to treat these individuals. Veterans historically have been a t risk for substance abuse issues. Morphine addiction was common during the Civil War (Baldwin, 2015), and the trend has continued to the present. Higher rates of alcohol consumption within the military and veteran populations are well known, and this asse rtion has been scientifically supported (Jacobson, Ryan, Hooper , Smit h, Amoroso, B oyko ... & Bell 2008). Alcohol use among military personnel and veterans has become so veterans (Baldwin 2015). Appendix A contains a list of the legal violations these individuals committed , broken down by gender. For both males and females, alcohol related issues were the most prevalent. With respect to extralegal issues, more than 50% of both genders have issues with addiction, mental health, and family relationships. To understand the influence that a recognize the unique struggles its clients have faced prior to arriving in the courtroom . For


7 example as of October 2008, the estimated United States veteran population was 23,442,000. S ince October , 2001, approximately 1.64 million U.S. troops have been deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (Russell, 2009). The clientele these Veteran Treatment Courts encounter are those who have a unique set of difficulties often resulting from being in these and other combat zones. Combat experiences can cause not only physical wounds , but psychological wounds , as well (Holdeman 2009). The issues facing veterans include , but are not limited to : substance abuse , homelessn ess, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Golub & Benner 2013) . Golub and Bennet (2013) s uggested that the use and misuse of alcohol and presc ription opioids (or prescri ption opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are the signature substan ces associated with Operation Enduring Freedom /O peration Iraqi F reedom /O peration N ew D awn military personnel and veterans. F or many, the co nsumption of these substances causes addition al challenges both for military pe rsonnel and veteran populations (Golub & Bennet 2013) . Other rep orts suggest that many military personnel use variou s substances such as Dexedrine, NoDoz, and Red Bull as go to and en ergy and substan ces including Ambien, Restoril, and nee ded sleep, and suppress anxiety (Golub & Bennet 2013). Baldwin (2015) emphasized that beyond PTSD, medical science is n ow paying more attention to traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs are increasingly common among veterans f rom the more recent military engagements in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) , Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) , and Operation New Dawn (OND) . The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Cent er (DVBIC) reported that more than 300,000 TBI medica l diagnoses occurred in the United States armed forces from 2000 thr ough 2014. The DVBIC also documented that TBI s accounted for approximately 25% of OIF/OEF comba t injuries, which is


8 more than two times that of Vietnam. Approximately 20% of frontline infantry suffered concussions in combat operations. The majority of veterans return to civilian life with little to no encounter with the criminal justice system. However, many veterans do end up involved w ith the criminal justice system. Since the establishment of VTCs, many veterans encounter the VTCs staff when they enter the criminal justice system . The process first starts when eligible individuals are ide ntified (Baldwin & Rukus 2014). Appendix B illus trates the two typical paths that veterans take to reach a VTC . It is a generic outlin e , as jurisdiction s are different in ways that reflect their own needs . T he process in general is continued until completion by fulfilling all requirements of probation. If an offender is non compliant, s/he may receive additional requirements that must be completed. Veterans typically are accepted into a VTC during pretrial. O nce a veteran is accepted into the VTC, a treatment plan is implemented. The veteran becomes a pr obationer at this time. The probationer can choose to follow the plan or to deviate from it. P robationers wh o follow the recovery plan, will spend less time in the criminal justice system. For those who deviate from the recove ry plan, there can be sanction s placed upon them. Sanctions can include incarceration, expulsion from the program, or a number of other options that can be decided upon by the presiding judge (Griffin , Steadman, & Petrila 2002 ) . As each of the VTCs are different by jurisdict ion, so a re the individuals who are accepted into the program. People accepted into VTC programs differ in their backgrounds, experiences, challenges, and crimes . With respect to crime commission, the first VTC in Buffalo, New York would hear any nonviolent felony or misdemeanor committed by a veteran. Charges often include d driving w hile intoxicated, theft , or drug possessio n . Violent offenses were evaluated on a case by As VTCs have become


9 more common , each jurisdiction has determined which criminal acts that they will accept into the program. Traditional court is designed to be adversarial. Schopp (2011, p. 102) noted Some jurisdictions pursue this responsibility through an adversarial proces s in which the participants each present arguments and evidence for their preferred outcome and a judge or jury strives to serve as a neutral decision maker regarding which party has provided the most persuasive case under the relevant law. In contrast, V reintegration. Treatment plans are defined in pre court conferences and typically have been r eviewed by the staff (VanZandt 2012). Plan reviews can happen as often as once a week to as little as once a month, depe nding on how the client is progressing . The treatment plan is reviewed more often when modifications are needed. The plans and modifications a re given to the client when he or she is called before the judge (VanZandt 2012) . One way to judge t recidivism. Recidivism often is a measure of effectiveness of crim inal justice programs. Hartley and Baldwin (2016) state d that despite their rapid expansion, there is a dearth of research eval uating the impact of VTCs on recidivism. Recidivism is def ined for Veteran Treatment Courts as any new arrest subsequent to entering the VTC program for the treatment group and as any new arrest subsequent to the start date of their probation period (Hartl ey & Baldwin, 2016). Hartley and Baldwin (2016) found that individuals who graduate d from a VTC had a low er rate of recidivism than individuals who did not graduate and people who went through a traditional court . Blo nigen, et al. (2016) contended that to limit recidivism , there needs to be more systematic impl ementation of interventions and strategies that focus o n risk factors . Further, the expansion of peer based ser vices, training in motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral


10 therapy, Veterans T reatment C ourts, and implementation of empirically based treatments for recidivism in the VA are policy responses that may help reduce recidivism among justice involved veterans (Blonigen, et al. 2016) . There is a lot of evidence that VTCs are effective i n reducing recidivism. There is no research on the interactions between the staff and probationers. These interactions are important, outcomes. Also, understandi to what is working or not working, so issues like managing work stress, job satisfaction, and best treatment practices can be addresses.


11 CHAPTER II METHODS There are many indiv iduals who contribute to the operation s Treatment Court. These individuals can positi vely and negatively affect veterans going through the process. The beginning of the research process was observations. Observing operates is an effective way to gather data from which subsequent interviews can be developed . accomplished with the assistance of the Chief Judge of the 18 th Judicial District, an Arapahoe County judge, and one of the three specialty court coordinators. This research focused on the staff who sit around the table s at the pre court conference and the support staff . Those individuals who participate in the pre court conference are listed below. Notably, th e staff at a pre court conference could be slightly different than the list belo w ; however, the occasional differences are not significant enough to affect the results. 1. Presiding Judge 2. Probation Officer 3. Prosecutor 4. Public Defender 5. Mentor Co ordinator 6. 7. Douglas County Deputy


12 8. ARTS Liaison (Addiction Research & Treatment Services) 9. Specialty Court Coordinator A 10. Specially Court Coordinator B 11. Specialty Court Coordinator C 12. Intern 13. Court Clerk Sample and Data Collection The sample is comprised of six of the twelve individuals identified above . The advantage to ch oosing this sample is that they process. Although the sample is convenient (availabl e and accessible) it is also purposeful. Purposeful sampling is widely used in qualitative research for the identification and selection of information rich cases relate d to the phenomenon of interest (Palinkas, et. al., 2015). These individuals work with the veterans who are on probation on a consistent basis until all of the req uirements of probation are met. The majority of these individuals communicate with the probationers through speak ing on the phone, text, face to face meetings, or email on a regula r basis ( more than once a week ) . These individuals build a rapport with the clientele. They understand the process in a way that is unique and insightful . I One disadvantage to my sample is that there are several individuals not being interviewed or obse rved. Important individuals who were not included are the presiding judge and others who work behind the scene such as the court clerks . Hence , t heir views on the impact they have on research . This is not t o say that their views and


13 perspectives are not of value. The scope of this research is limited and has time constraints. It is inconceivable to have the time to interview everyone involved in this process. Additionally, accessing a presiding judge is diff icult and involves time and resources beyond the scope of this project. Observations For several weeks , I observed happens every Friday morning at the Arapahoe County Justice Center . These observations lasted between three and five hours on each occasion. The first set of observations occurred in August and September of 2017. These observations took place in Courtroom 22 in Building 2 . There was a second set of observations that lasted from June to Sept ember of 2018 in Courtroom 14 , also in Building 2 . During this time , I observed approximately 35 probationers go through the process of . I sign ed a confidentiality agreement before each observation. Con sequently, my observations are not documented as research results. They were used as a tool to develop interview questions; an inductive strategy that is effective in qualitative research (Thomas 2006) . Observation tools have the advantages of flexibility, high internal validity, low inference, and low participant burden, while their disadvantages include the need for careful observer training and recalibration, inaccessibility to certain environments, and p otential participant reactivity (McKenzie & Van de r Mars, 2015). . There is a pre court conference of all of those involved i n working with the veterans. I took field notes of my observations with a pen and note pad for the pre court portion . During the pro ceedings, I continue d to take field notes. However, for the court proceedings portion I take notes on my cellular phone. I save d the field notes I took for later use using the memo application . I did this to preserve the notes. Individuals


14 in the court and gallery likely assumed that I was a random individual playing with my phone. I did not want my observations to be a distraction in any way to the natural proceedings . Individuals needed to feel comfortable and to go about their normal activity. The same d ay, I transcribe d both sets of notes onto my personal laptop . I also add ed anything that I may have forgotten to write down from personal memory. The goal of the observation phase was to develop preliminary knowledge for the purpose of developing in depth interview questions. Interviews eral weeks, I developed interview questions based on my observations. I used these questions to conduct interviews with approximately half of the individuals at the tabl e in the pre court meeting , excluding the presiding judge. It can be considered a convenience sample. Interviews were done electronically because of time constraints. I developed a questionnaire (Appendix C) for individuals participating in the research. I ask ed a combination of open and close ended questions. One benefit of the electronic format was that I could follow up with specific questions to those open ended questions. Having the interview exchange is writing eliminates the need to later transcribe the interview, and there were no issues related to recording the interviews. The first step in this process was to contact prospective interviewees. I made initial contact in person on September 7 th, in session. I n that initial contact, I expl ain who I was, the purpose of the research , and that the re were approximately 25 ques tions that would take roughly two hour s to answer. I spoke with approximately twelve individuals. The presiding judge was not present. Everyo ne that I spoke to was interested in taking part in the research.


15 Bef ore the interview process started , all individuals participating in the study sign ed a form of consent (Appendix D). On September 7, 2018, I explained this form in person to all of those who a r e involved in the pre court conference. I explain ed to all of the individuals before the y started the questionnaires that there would be no retributio n from their employers or anyone else as I would not be sharing their specific responses with anyone . I also explain ed that there would be no consequences for not participating. Lastly, I inform ed them that there would be no penalty for withdrawing from the research at any point, and that they could refu se to answer any questions . I also inform ed them th at I was available to answer questions at any point during the research. I reiterated that th e form would take approximately two hour to complete. The consent afternoon . I bega n to receive responses within seven days via email . The final response was returned to me 45 days after the initial contact via email . Once the interview forms were completed, participants emailed them to me. I review ed each form, and email ed thos e participants with follow up questio ns as needed. This process continue d until each qu estion and follow up question was answered to the satisfaction of the participant and myself. Analysis Plan The goal of this research is to explore the impact the staf Court has on the probationers . This was accomplished by first doing observations of the pre court conferences and the hearings, followed by interviews of individuals who are an integral part of the completion of probation.


16 Onc e all o f the observations and interviews were conducted, I analyze d the data gathered. inductive approach, identifying themes as I coded interviews. I sought to identif y themes that impact the entire group of veterans in both positive and negative ways. Strengths and Weaknesses of Methodology Field observations can have many advantages. The first advantage is that the researcher has access to situations and people whe re other types of research are inappropriate to use. Observing a courtroom setting allows all aspects to be taken note of. Access to people in real life situations is invaluable . Many research designs do not allow for these interactions to be directly obse rved which can result in the loss of tone, context, and substantive accuracy. Field observations allow for a better expl anation of meaning and context than other research methods. It also constitutes a mechanism to gauge vali dity and in depth understanding , particularly when it is triangulated with other data. Gold (1957) noted Every field work role is at once a social interaction device for secu ring information for scientific purposes and a set of b ehaviors in which an observer's self is involv ed. W hile playing a field work role and attempting to take the role of an informant, the field ob server often attempts to master hitherto strange or only generally understood universes of discourse relating to many attitudes and behaviors. He continual ly intros pects, raising endless questions about t he informant and the developing field relat ionship, with a view to playing the field work role as successfully as possible. There are also disadvantages for observations. The most common disadvantage is that observ ation research seem too subjective (Sedgwick & Greenwood 2015) . The bias of the researcher can come through in note taking and interpretive write ups . Observations can also be time consuming, especially when compared to large scale survey administration an d analysis.


17 Observation can be subject to the Hawthorne Effect. The Hawthorne Effect is when those being observed change their behavior during the observation period. Then, those being observed revert to their previous habits once the research is concluded . The researcher must be mindful to not affect the situation he or she is observing . As the researcher, I need to stay as inconspicuous as possible during the proceedings so that the individuals being observed do not change their actions to give a distorti on of reality. As n oted by Golafshani (2003 ), validity can be described by a wide range of terms in qualitative studies. Some qualitative researchers have a rgued that the term validity is not applicable to qualitative research, but at the same time, they have realized the need for some kind of qualifying check or measure for their research . This has led many researchers to develop their own concepts of validity . The decision of validity is based upon trust in this research. Ethical principles can violate the law or standards set beforehand. There is a high potential for role conflict for practitioner researchers. A researcher must balance the research being conducted and the co nfidentiality of those being observed with the potential of witnessing a criminal act. The participants of this research work for the courts. They all understand that integrity is important in what they do. They all have accepted the responsibilities that Treatment Court. Therefore, that integrity is how validity is measured in this research. Electronic inter views also have many advantages . An interviewee can feel more open without the pressure of the interview er there in person . The researc her can also capture written c ues. These cues allow the researcher to guide the interviewee. In guiding the interview, the researcher can keep he focus on what is being researched . These advantages also exist for face to face interviews. Cassell and Symon ( Morgan & Symon 2004 , p.11 ) defined the qualitative


18 an interview, whose purpose is to gather descriptions of the life world of the interviewee with respect to interpretation of the meaning of the described phenome na To meet this goal, quali tative research interviews will generally have the following characteristics: a low deg ree of structure imposed by the interviewer; a preponderance of open questions; and a sequences in t Specifically, electronic interviews allow for there to be little structure. The interviewees have the freedom to answer question s without the time constraints that exist with face to face interviews. They also have the ability to be more comfortable in their own surroundings without the stress of my physical presence. There are some disadvantages o f using electronic interviews in research as well. The quality of data by the interviewer can come into question. Opdenakker (2006 ) explained that a disadvantage of using e mail is a lack of social cues. As each interviewee has his or her own communication styl e, the interviewer has to adapt the personal communication style online accordingly . Biases could come into the interviews as well . They can be in the form of past trauma or previous positive experiences that a ffect how each question is asked (Opdenakker 2006) . The lack of experience by the interviewer can also hinder the quality of the interview. A researcher who lacks this exp erience may miss the opportunity for follow up questions where appropriate. A way to eliminate this is to revise the core questions as much as possible. This will eliminate the interview from going off the desired path. Manuel data entry and coding can als o be a disadvantage. The final disadvantage is that with time constrain t s , there are limits to how many people can be interviewed (Opdenakker 2006) . This risk can be limited by ensuring that key individuals are interviewed and appropriate time is given to each of them. Court L ocation


19 same state, these results will be specific to the jurisdiction for which the study is conducted. This can be seen as both a strength and weakness. The strength is that this can be used to implement improvements in this particular court and ones similar to it in similar settings. The four counties within the 18 th Judicial District operate all of their specialty courts to similar if not exac t standards. Each of th ese counties could possibly be a ffected by this type of research. The There will be similarities, but there will not be exact matches of comparison. An example would be that Colorado Springs operates their courts differently with different standards and guidelines.


20 CHAPTER III FINDINGS Of the 12 individuals who took part in the pre court conference (excluding the presiding j udge) , I was able to complete interviews with six of them . T he interviewees had many roles, allowing for significant variety of information and comprehensiveness of information. The interview protocol (Appendix C) consisted of three sections; judge and col leagues, perceptions of the program, and job satisfaction. Judge and Colleagues The first question in this section was about judicial experience. The time the interviewees worked for the courts ranged from four years to ten years with a mean of 6.83 year s. The time the interviewees worked for specialty courts ranged one year to five years with a mean of 3.5 five years with a mean of 3.5. The follow up question was asking about judges. The first part of the question was how many judges they worked for in their careers with the courts. Two of the interviewees responded with four with another responding one. The other three interviewees responded numerous or severa l with no specifics given. I continued this line of questioning by asking how they felt about the presiding judge. All of the interviewees stated that the presiding judge was compassionate , respectful, and firm. One participant responded stated that: presiding Judge in VTC is ideally suited for the court. The presiding Judge in VTC has taken the time to study and understand the underlying issues the Veterans are dealing with and


21 how to properly address them. Further, the Judge is constantly willing to listen to input from the VTC staff and develop a collaborative plan to best serve the clients. The main differences in how the presiding VTC Judge holds court compared to other judges are the respectfulness, open communication, and clear explanation of ex pectations, decisions, and consequences explained to clients during court. Most importantly, the presiding Judge demonstrates (through words and actions) a genuine concern for each client and their progression through the program toward a healthier, better life. Another interviewee stated that: treated in the normal court structure, but at the end of the day, each person on probation, whether they are in a specia lty court or not, is treated fairly and with the utmost respect from my perspective From these responses, the judge has a positive impact on the environment of the courtroom . This positive influence is recognized by those who work with and for her. This is seen as a model of how the staff should impact the probationers. I continued by asking the perspecti ve of the interviewees about the presiding judge. The first part of the question was how the presiding judge felt about the probationers on her docket . follow up question of whether or not the presiding judg e felt an added pressure with this specific group of clientele. Five of the interviewees felt that from their perspective that the presiding judge does not feel that there is added pressure. One interviewee stated that: re pressure than any other judicial officer re: success of a client, but in terms of a specialty court, there may be a built in desire to see success to demonstrate the values of the program. Another interviewee stated a similar response: as a very high level of respect for our clients in the VTC program whether she is of our clients from Judge Mclean because she presents with a genuine appro ach that she cares


22 An additional response from a third interviewee stated: The Judge cares about the probationers she displays and communicates a concern for the well being of each probationer, recalling e personal circumstances. I do not think the Judge feels an added pressure the assist the probationers, but does a superior job over other judges in clearly communicating with the probationers, treating them as individuals, and addressing the circumstances of each case -making sure the probationers know what they must accomplish to successfully complete their treatment and the VTC requirements. The Judge takes her duties and responsibilities seriously and never fails to put the treatment of the probationer first. The final respondent did not specifically answer the question of pressure. The responses to this question show the interest and compassion the judge shows the probationers. The judge shows an i nterest in all of the probationers. From these responses, the judge cares equally of how the probationers are doing in the program no matter whether they are succeeding or struggling. The next question was about the atmosphere of the courtroom. All six o f the interviewees The judge makes sure the court and the team implement best practices and key components of PSCs and is sure to use four positives for every one negative to promote behavior change. In a VTC, the atmosphere of a courtroom is important. All of the interviewees stated that the atmosphere was positive. This is felt by the staff and clientele. The positive atmosphere is reflected in promoting positive behavior among the probationers. The viewed the presiding judge. Three of the interviewees did not want to speak about the views of


23 their colleagues. Of these three, only one stated that they had never heard any of their colleagues speak negatively about the judge. The other three had varying responses. Two of the three stated that they thought their colleagues thought of the judge positively. The final respondent stated The varying views of how each interviewee felt their colleagues viewed the judge was expected. As each interviewe e comes from a different background, they would perceive their These responses led to a follow up question about how they impact on the probationers. I asked if their colleagues felt they made a positive or negative impact on the probationers. Court team feel a connection with the probat ioners. Two of the interviewees did not want to thought their colleagues had a positive impact. One interviewee stated that : I think my colleagues feel they make a positive imp act on our clients. Everyone is dedicated to supporting each and every client in a very creative and out of the box approach for our clients. We do not just focus on the terms and conditions when working with clients, our as a whole. I think we all bring to the table very unique roles in the program. My follow up question was if they felt that their colleagues could do more for the p robationers. Two respondents stated they did not want to discuss their colleagues. Two more respondents stated that they were unsure what more could be done. One respondent did not


24 aining will keep our All of those who responded to this question felt that their colleagues had a positive impact on the probationers. This is reflective of how the judge maintains a positive environment and the VTC staff follows that lead. One respondent felt that continued training would be valuable. My final question for this section was to ask if any of the interviewees felt that their colleagues had a negative impact on the probationers. Five of the six respondents sa id no. One respondent stated that: For the first two years I was a part of this team, there seemed to be a disconnect with the corrected itself with the recen t addition of a new DA. To clarify this response, during my first set of observations there was a different district attorney. I am unsure of when this exact change occurred. It is seen as a positive to have a staff that wants to be involved with the VTC. Those who want to be a part of the VTC can be a positive influence. Perceptions of the Program The initial question I asked was how the clientele is chosen to be a participant in the e viewed in general terms, and I also asked how this differed from traditional court. Five of the six respondents gave submitted an application to the court for review. They continue d by stating that this type of court was more compassionate than traditional court. Another respondent stated that:


25 The PSC team does the screening process for the participants in the program, which are screened on a voluntary basis by the client, pending revocation of their pr obation, or new law violation. All clients that appear on docket days have a report prepared for them that includes a treatment update, monitored sobriety update, probation update, goals, recommendations, a positives and obstacles, next court date information, miscellaneous information, as well as prior court dates w/ outcomes. This was similar to a response given by another interviewee that stated that: Each client is initially screened by the PSC office a nd must meet criteria of the program. To be considered for the program, each client must fall on the high risk/high need quadrant of the RANT assessment, must have verifiable military service, mental health diagnoses, and is capable of being supervised by we have a system of checks and balances to weed out implicit bias. A different response was given by an interviewee who stated that: VTC requires military service and a service c onnected disability / addiction issue -while favoring those with non violent offenses as well. The military service requirement make the selection completely different than tradition criminal courts. th preferential screening and are one step closer to a no voting process. If the Vet meets set criteria they are expected. This will help remove any implicit bias to the The different responses from the interviewees was noticeable. Eac h interviewee had a different perspective of the path that the probationers took to be a part of VTC. The assumption would be that the entire staff would have the same answer. The follow reatment Court was different from traditional court. Specifically, I asked the interviewees if the treatments were uniform or individualized for the probationers. All six respondents had similar answers. All stated that the treatment was individualized and specific to the client . One of the respondents stated that: The VTC offers substance abuse, mental heal th, domestic violence and other treatment options. Many of these options are avail able in traditional courts, but the treatment is more rigid and inten se in speci alty programs. All treatment in VTC is individualized for the client. Another interviewee stated that:


26 exchange for incarceration (prison diversion). treatment issues to include PTSD (combat and non combat), TBI, moral injury, MST and substance abuse disorders to name a few. Therefore, all treatment is individualized. A third respondent continued by stating that: The focus on treatment (with a specialized / personalized) programs for each client, with a focus on treatment, not jail time or other punishment for each client is a significant departure from traditional court. While containing some common element s, t he treatment is tailored to the Finally, another interviewee stated that: are veterans to have a unique level of supervision and care spe cific to their needs, which are different from civilians that are under probation supe rvision. The treatment plan is individualized for each probationer to their specific risks and needs. The focus on individualized treatment is what makes this type of court different from traditional court. The flexibility of treatment allows for each probationer to be treated as an individual. This has a positive impact as they know that the VTC staff is taking a personal interest in their success. The next questio n was about the phases of the program. All of the interviewees responded there were four phases. One respondent stated in detail each of these phase. They Phase 1 = 1 to 2 months, Orientation and Stabilization , Phase 2 = minimum of 4 months, Living w/Integrity , Phase 3 = 5 months, Relapse Prevention , Phase 4 = 6 months, Maintenance and Reintegration the strengths/weaknesses of the program, four of the six interviewees stated that no changes should be made since the program was succeeding. One respondent stated that: There are currently four phases of the program, lasting a minimum of 18 months and due to ed. From where I sit, there are no discernable weaknesses, and the time, effort and dedication to the program are the largest strengths of the program.


27 The other two respondents had different perspectives from these four and each other regarding if the ph ases should be modified . These two respondents wanted the phases to be expanded in different ways. The first of the I can see a Phase 5 being added for clients to have longer treatment requirements than traditional clients o n probation (DUI and DV treatment requiremen ts that can exceed 18 stated that: We have spent 5+ years refining our program to best practices (NADCP) and I feel we have a well oiled machine. If we were to improv e on anything I think it would be that we need to treat the family as well as the Vet. With the recent opening of the Sturm Center (DU) and the Cohen Network (CU) we are starting to see more agencies offering family treatment and we are utilizing them. Fi ve of the six respondents did not state that there were any weakness. Only one respondent stated a weakness in the program. They stated that: The weaknesses of the program are the communication between the different facets of the program sometimes gets co nvoluted, too many chiefs, and not enough balance. Only other area of growth would be a better balance of how sanctions are implemented and being more firm, fair, and consistent across the board with the participants. All of the interviewees responded wi th the strength of the program being the team that operates team work approach, hard work, dedication, and the recidivism rate. One interview also added that the acc ountability of the probationer was a strength. The interviewees saw the VTC staff as a strength. The majority also saw program as sufficient. The one interviewee who saw a weakness stated that the issue was a lack of communication. As stated before, it i s understandable that people from different backgrounds and who have different roles would have different perspectives. However, this was not the first time that communication was an issue.


28 gram, I asked the interviewees how much discretion they felt they had. All six interviewees answered that they felt they had discretion in decision making and felt their voices were being heard. None of them stated that they had more or less than any other individual who participates at the pre court conference. The interviewees from this response all felt that they were equal voices with the other VTC staff. The staff having an equal voice is a positive in that it allows each to feel confident to speak wh en they feel the need. They do not feel discouraged from expressing their views. I followed up this question by asking about what is considered a success and failure and reasons for both. I also inquired that if incarceration was the only example of a fa ilure. I received a variety of different responses from five of the six respondents. However, there were similarities for the majority of these responses. The two who had the most similar answers stated that: The simple answer is dedication to the progra m and dedication to treatment. If a client is committed to treatment and is following the program, than generally that person will succeed, if not, that person will not. S uccess is defined as completing all terms and conditions of the program and ensuring the client is in full compliance with program requirements. Failure may (I stress May ) mean incarceration, but that is not always the case. If a client fails to complete the program and has exhausted all treatment options, there dismissal from the program MAY be considered a failure, but that will not always lead to automatic jail time. Another interviewee stated that: Some of the reasons for success is the clients, probation, and the judicial process being geared to identify client specific needs and ri sk areas for this specific population of individuals, which is tailored for their supervision case plan goals and treatment plan. Some of the other common reasons for success is due to the comradery, the added support through the peer mentor program, the level of accountability for the participants, and the community useful service the veterans e ngage in while in the program. Things that are defined as failures is participants not successfully completing the program, not wanting to address the negative beh aviors, challenges, and/or battles that lead them in the criminal justice system. Absconding would be considered a failure, as well as committing new law violations. I do not feel that failure only means some type of incarceration because failure is not hinged on whether a client goes to jail or prison.


29 A third interviewee responded: Success and failure are defined via the VTC commitment to their treatment program. Each pr obationer must progress through the different phas es of VTC and their pro gression is determined by their successful compliance and/or complet ion of their treatment program. Success or failure does not necessarily mean incarceration. First, some probationers receive a sanction of jail time, but continu e on to successfully complete the program. Failure, although different in every case, is defined by a probationer not completing their required trea tment program resulting in them not progressing through the phases of VTC. Failure can also mean a probation er v oluntarily eliminating themselves fro m VTC, which usually results in incarceration. A fourth interviewee had a slightly different perspective. They stated: First off, this is a great question and depending on who and what role speaking with it fo Corp and probably quite different then the Judges or VTC PCS team. servic e is at the heart of everything we do. We never lose that, but we can get separated from our purpose and that is when all the problems and disorders become unmanageable. So, we see it every day new vet comes in very isolated, poor home life (if any), no family support (because he has exhausted it), low self esteem (he has lost that purpose) and no trust that he can be helped. By the end of phase 3 they have been exposed to some heavy treatment, they have reunited with family, they have re established conn ection w/community and they trust the VTC team is in their best interest. If they run into problems, they reach out to the Mentor Corp and Probation. They are back into school and the workforce. They have reconnected with that selfless service mentioned ab ove and anyone would be proud to have them as their neighbor, spouse and friend. Then they come back to the program to act as a Mentor and share their experience of the dark side and how they recovered. That is beyond success! There are no failures. The responses to this question from the interviewees were all similar. All of the interviewees felt that the probationer needed to have the desire to succeed. This did not mean that the probationers would not have issues along the way. This meant that the prob ationers needed to be committed to returning to society as a productive member. This led to the follow up question of characteristics of a probationer who succeeds or program. They also had a willingness to get better and to have open lines of communication. The


30 characteristics of an individual who fails were the opposite of thes e. An individual who did not want treatment, did not believe they needed treatment, and did not want to communicate with the The next question was about the value of the mentors. I also inquired about the impact of the mentors. All six of the interviewees stated that the mentors were of great value. One interviewee stated are as much a part, if not more, to the success people care about them, and impact on the court and the probationers providing another, more personal source of support and at: Mentors are a huge part of the program and have been a huge boon to the program as well. This is one factor that distinguishes VTC from traditional courts as well as the other PSCs in the 18th JD. They are crucial to the program and have generally ha d a very positive impact on VTC clients. A final response from an interviewee stated: The VTC Mentor Corp is what separates our program from a traditional drug court program. Its evidence based practice that tells us that the confidentiality value of th e Mentor/Mentee Vets prefer to speak with Vets. The justice involved Vets (JIV) knows they have a confidant that IS NOT part of the VTC treatment team. They are volunteers. I do not know of on their assigned Mentor. The bond is unbreakable and the friendship is a lifetime. The mentors are viewed as a valuable asset. Probationers are not forced to have a mentor. Yet from these responses, mentors are viewed as a valuable asset. The mentors are not part of the VTC staff, but they do have a positive impact on the clientele. should be expanded. From the six in terviewees, I received four different responses. One


31 interviewee stated that there should be no changes because the quality of treatment might be lost. Th e second respondent stated that: gest need, and the one short fall the program has. It would be great to have unlimited resources to help all the The VTC program should be expanded to include more eligible veterans and, if possib le, provide more input from additional medical professionals. The last three interviewees had the same opinion. They stated that: Yes and we are expanding. By the end of this year we will incorporate a Veteran Support Court program to address the low ris k/high need population. Currently the VTC only accepts This new track will help address those Vets with lower criminal records (misdemeanors) and offer all the resources the VTC has t o offer (treatment, resource assistance to include education, employment, transportation and pro social activities). These low track vets are not required to have a Mentor but one can be assigned if needed. Several of the interviewees want to see the VTC program be expanded. Those that want to see the program expanded all state is so they can help more veterans. The desire to assist more veterans can be seen as a positive. It is understandable that one interviewee who be concerned with a loss in the qualit y of the program. The next question was about the criminal justice system. In the traditional criminal justice system, there is a tendency to look at crime through a single lens. I asked if it was different for Court. All six interviewees stated that each Two of the respondents stated that there were overall themes however. These themes included addiction and PTSD. The following question I asked for this section was to inquire who has the most influence at the pre court conference excluding the judge. Two of the interviewees responded that the


32 Probation seems to have the most influence; they meet with the probationers most often, are well versed in the criminal justice system, and have the authority to file a complaint against the probationer. interviewees responded that they felt they wer e all equals. One respondent stated that: than another in regards to the client. Each member of the PSC Work Tea m will bring to the table their professional opinion as it relates to their specific role on t he team. For example, the representative from ARTS or from the VA will make treatment recommendation, the probation officer will m ake supervision recommendations and so on. Previously, all of the interviewees felt that they had an equal voice. Yet on thi s question, two of the six interviewees felt that the probation officer had the most influence. This would seem to contradict the previous response. Treatment Court program. Five of the six interviewees responded to this question. One respondent stated that they did not know what crimes were accepted into the program. Another respondent stated that all crimes were accepted except sexual crimes. A third respondent stated that sexual crimes and capital murder were not accepted. The final two respondents stated that: V. Eligibility and Disqualifying Criteria (Target Population) Section 5.01 Participation in the VTC is a privilege Section 5.02 App licants must meet the following criteria to be considered for VTC: (a) Meets diagnostic criteria a behavioral health disorder including substance use disorder (1) Preference will be given to PTSD and/or TBI (b) Served in the armed forces (e .g. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard) (c) Preference will be given to felony cases (1) If the VTC is unable to reach capacity with felony referrals, then misdemeanors will be considered as long as those individuals meet all other criteria (d) Capable of being supervised by the 18th Judicial District Probation Department


33 (e) Have a LSI score of 20 or higher (f) Must be legally competent Section 5.03 Applicants will be excluded if their crim inal charges or history include: (a) Any offense defined as unlawful sexual behavior pursuant to C.R.S. § 16 22 102(9) Section 5.04 Applicants may be excluded if: (a) Applicant has a history of manufacturing or distribution of control led substances (b) The VTC caseload is full (c) Applicant can be adequately supervised by a non specialized VTC (d) Any offense defined as a crime of violence pursuant to C.R.S. § 18 1.3 406 This question would seem to have a consistent a nswer from all respondents. However, one interviewee did not know what criminal acts were eligible to be a part of the VTC program. Two of the respondents stated some of the criminal acts that were not accepted, but did not list all. Job Satisfaction I f irst asked each interviewee what their role in treatment was and what they liked and disliked. Five of the six interviewees had defined roles that they had been in for a period of time. The sixth interviewee stated that their role evolve over time. Four of the six interviewees stated that they had no dislikes with their position . One interviewee stated that they disliked the struggle to balance a personal life with a work life. The sixth respondent stated that they disliked when they could not get through t o a client. This same respondent turned that to a positive by relationship with the VTC team, and working with the veterans.


34 The four of the six interviewees enjoyed their position with the VTC. The two who had dislikes were for different reasons. One response was concerned with finding a balance. The other disliked when a client di d not understand what was expected of them. I followed this question up with one about longevity in the field. I asked the interviewees how long they wanted to be in a specialty court type setting and what there long term goals would be. Five of the six i nterviewees stated that they wanted to stay as long as possible. One of I am very comfortable in this positon and could envision myself doing this for years to come. I am in no rush to do anything different or go anywhere dif ferent. The sixth response was that they would like to eventually move on because of the high stress of the position without added compensation. The desire of five of the six interviewees to stay in the VTC can be seen as a positive. The dedication to t he clientele can be seen by the probationers. The concern of the sixth emotional toll. The follow up question to this was about how they feel about their relati onship with the probationers is and if they were empathetic to these probationers. All six interviewees felt the same way. They all felt they had a positive relationship with the probationers and were empathetic to these issues. One interviewee responded: There is an absolute great deal of empathy for the clients we work with. Whereas in traditional nearly the opposite in our PSCs. We get to know these clients on a very personal level for traditional court. Another interviewee stated that:


35 I think I have a very good working relationship with my clients. I am firm, f air, and consistent, but I also take the time to effectively listen, provide genuine feedback, support, advocate, and hold all my clients accountable. All of my clients are fully aware of program expectations and all have a voice in their treatment plan, case plan goals, and their supervision. The VTC staff dedication to the probationers is again expressed in these responses. All of the interviewees felt that they chowed empathy for the clientele. The probationers who view this empathy see it as a posit ive because they know someone is there for them. Based on this view of relationships with the probationers, I asked how the interviewees reacted to a success by the probationers. All of the respondents stated they were proud of each success. They also ack nowledged that each probationer had a different level of success. One interviewee stated it as: cause you know the efforts than the court sobriety and does not reoffend, th person to person, as some clients may have a higher ceiling than others, so you have to have mindse t. feel overly proud when my clients succeed. This includes their small mini goals, case plan goals, personal goals, or graduation goals. I measure success by their periods of sobriety, follow through, recidi vism, accomplishments, and phase progression. When a probationer succeeds, the interviewees were proud of the probationer. The pride was in everything from a small goal to completion of the program. For the probationers, they get to see that someone is p roud of them which is a positive motivator.


36 In contrast to the previous questions, I asked how failures were viewed. Specifically, I asked how setbacks and struggles were viewed. Five of the six respondents viewed setbacks and struggles as a natural part Setbacks are natural. Everyone, including myself has these. The best way for me, or really anyone on my team to approach this is to ask for help (when available) from members of my team or from colleagues in other jurisdictions. The key is to recognize the struggle/setback/barrier, and make a plan of how to best overcome that with members of that team. One interviewee had a slightly different perspective. They stated: Quite honestly, I used to take JIV set backs personally. But experience has shown me that set backs are part of recovery. All we can do is show them there is an easier, softer way and hope they take the sugges on due to lack of program performance. We work tirelessly to promote their success. It may appear at times that we want their recovery more than they do and this may be true at times. But if you have no idea what recovery looks like, then we have to show them and again, never give up. We, in my humble opinion, are the leading authority on ju stice involved Vets. In most cases, we are the end of the road. If we as a team cannot help that vet stay out of prison, there is nowhere else to turn. And prison should NEVER be confused with treatment. Setbacks are seen as a natural part of the proce ss. None of the interviewees say this as a permeant situation. All of the interviewees looked at them in a positive way. It was an opportunity for the probationer to get back to their treatment plan. All of the interviewees stated not give up on them. The next question was about their personal views on the pre court team. I first asked if they felt their voice was being heard. Four of the six felt that their v oices were definitely heard. With one interviewee stating:


37 I absolutely feel I have a voice on the team and a respected member of the team. When you work closely with a team as I do, yo u will feel a natural bond with them. This bond is perhaps stronger th an I have ever had with any other coworkers in any other position I have had, a nd it definitely helps with the stressors of the job. The last two respondents said they felt their voices were heard for the most part. This response was similar to the two previous questions about being heard and influence. All of the interviewees feel that they have an equal voice. The majority feel that they have equal influence and that they are being heard at the pre court conference. However similar to before, there are those who feel they are overshadowed at times. The follow up to this question was about how they view their bond with the rest of the eam was strong. One respondent compared the bond to a military camaraderie, another interview compared it to a family, and a third interviewee stated it was the strongest relationship that they have ever had with a group of coworkers. The final question of this section was the only personal question I asked. It was also the it changed their views on the probationers. This question led to a variety of responses. One interviewee stated that there was no impact, and they also stated that their views have not changed. A second interviewee had a similar response that this work wa s not stressful, and they felt thankful for the This position, while challenging, has not had a si gnificant impact on my personal life, and due to my familiarity of speci alty courts and probation, has not changed how I view persons on probation.


38 the stress of the position impacts my personal life, but this has not impacted how I view my clients because the stress comes from the w interviewee that viewed their position as stressful stated that: As I mentioned before, I have absolutely no adverse feelings towards our clients . I am them with the exception of recovery. This job can be very stressful and for a combat vet, you are constantly being re traumatized by recovery. Recovery from PTSD and substance abuse is not a onetime goal we reach it is a way of life that we constantly have to work at. Self that we take care of ourselves. For example, my supervisor recently arranged my schedule to a 4/10 work week which allows me every Monday to work on my own personal recovery, take time for self and separate and decompress. It has worked wonders in my life! While two of the six interviewees say ther e position as stressful and one stated it was challenging, none of the interviewees blamed the clientele. One interviewee even stated that they were thankful for the opportunity to help veterans. The ability of those that were interviewed to separate the c hallenges of their role from how they interact with the clientele is a positive. The interviewees do not act on their stress or frustrations.


39 CHAPTER IV DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSION ssues that are not seen by the traditional court system. They come into contact with issues of domestic violence and substance abuse issues similar to those of traditional courts. However, these team members also work with individuals who have issues with PTSD and TBI. Qualitative research has allowed for me to delve past the statistics commonly uses to analyze specialty courts. By conducting observations and interviews, I have been able to ask specific questions about the nt Court. In conducting this research, I have discovered four themes that are important. The first of these themes is regarding the presiding judge. From my observations, I viewed the presiding judge as a stern and compassionate individual. As each probat ioner stands in front of the judge, she inquiries about how they are doing. She congratulates those who are succeed, and she offers words of encouragement for those who are struggling. From the interviews, all six respondents stated similar views. The comm The second theme that I discovered was about how individuals are selected to be placed someone was selected or even u p for consideration. I witnessed prospective clientele being discussed on several occasions, and I also witnessed an informal vote on these prospective clientele. However, I could not describe how this process started or even ended. The six interviewees al so had different answers. Only three interviewees had similar responses. One would expect that the process would have been clear for everyone to have the same answer. Yet,


40 this was untrue. To complicate this issue, the six interviewees had different answer s on what criminal acts were eligible. Two of the six interviewees responded with similar answers. One respondent did not know what criminal acts were accepted into the program. This may be an issue that needs to be discussed so that every member of the Ve have a complete understanding of the process that clientele become part of the treatment program. The next the probationers. Every time I observed each team member. When discussing the probationers during the pre court conference, the team members spoke kindly of all of the clientele. Even those probationers who were struggling were spoken with kindness. The passion that the team members spoke with in trying to find solutions was commendable. I also observed this dedication during the court docket. When a client was in front of the presiding judge, several individuals spoke with words of encoura ging for those struggling. All six of the interviewees responded positively about the probationers. The two stated that they did not hold the probationers res ponsible for that stress. The final theme I discovered was about the team and how they viewed each other. Some of the interview responses were different than what I observed. From the six completed interviews, all of the respondents expressed their view t hat there was a strong bond among the team. Four of the six interviewees felt that they had an equal voice. The last two stated that they felt the probation officer had the most prominent voice. From my observations, I did witness a camaraderie. I did sens e that they had a strong bond. I also witnessed that not everyone had an equal voice. From the observation phase of the research, I witnessed a definite hierarchy. Not


41 including the presiding judge, the probation officer did have the most say. From my pers pective, this made the most sense since the probation officer typically had the most consistent contact with the probationers. After the probation officer updated the presiding judge about a probationer, the judge would get the opinions of those she felt s he needed to receive them from. The judge did not get the opinion from every member of the team as it was not necessarily needed. However on one occasion, I witnessed a conversation that seemed to be getting out of hand with the team members were talking o ver each other. One of the specialty court coordinators said in a stern voice that everyone needed to listen to each other. Everyone immediately stopped talking. From these observations, I would conclude that there is a hierarchy that may be flexible at ti mes. From these themes, I have reached two Treatment Court team and presiding judge are dedicated to the probationers above all else. All of the interviewees state that there are challenges and stresses. Y et, no interviewee held the probationers responsible. This is significant in that this creates a positive experience for the probationers. The probationers know that the VTC judge and staff will never give up on them. The probationers also know that they w ill receive the help that they need. For the probationers, it is easier to have faith in the treatment plan when it is designed for the individual and not for the group. The VTC judge and staff take the time to learn about the client, acknowledge their iss ues, and help them return to society as a productive member. The second conclusion is that there needs to be some clarity in general functions of the process that brings clientele into the program and what criminal acts were accepted into the program . There were two interviewees that wanted to see the program be expanded. Only one


42 interviewee stated that there were weaknesses in the program. With more time and resou rces, I am confident each of these interviewees would have found weaknesses. I have observed the pre court conference for several months. I understand the time constraints that they have. It would be my suggestion to have a meeting that strictly discusses these concerns and general practices . The goal of this research was to be a stepping stone. The majority of the research into analyze the success rates of VTCs acro ss the country. There is an issue with this that is often not discussed. VTCs are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction just as traditional courts are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A statistical number does not answer why a program is a success or why it is a failure. I understood that with this research that I would have limited resources and that would reflect in the study. However, the goal was to start the process in the hopes that continued qualitative research would reveal why the se courts succeed, fail, and can improve. In conclusion, these data will be given to District Court judge Bonnie McLean and her at the Arapahoe County Justice Center . They als o will also be given to 18th Judicial District Chief Judge Michelle Amico Elbe rt County, and Lincoln County. The findings can also be used to compare to specialty courts in Arapahoe County , such as the Wellness Court . Finally, this research will be given to Ara pahoe County Judge Collen Clark and Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court Carlos Samour as they were the two individuals who initiated this research and facilitated it s completeion . To specify, Judge Clark allowed me to have an internship for her to gain an understanding of how traditional courts work before I


43 started my research . She also initiated my meeting w ith Judge Samour who was the 18th Judicial District Chief Judge at the time this research was started. He is an advocate for specialty courts and was excited for me to conduct this research. This data will also be available to any individual who can use it


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46 Exercise and Sport, 86(1), 13;29; 29. doi:10.1080/02701367.2015.991264 Morgan, R. D., Mitchell, S. M., Thoen, M. A., Campion, K., Bolaños, A. D., Sustaíta, M. A., & Henderson, S. (2016). Specialty courts: Who's in and are they working? Psychological Services, 13(3), 246. Morgan, S. J., & Symon, G. (2004). Electronic interviews in organizational research. Essential guide to qualitative methods in organizational research, 23 33 Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages and disadvantages of four interview tech niques in qualitative research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(4) Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implem entation research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42(5), 533 544. doi:10.1007/s10488 013 0528 y Russell, R. T. (2009). Veterans Treatment Court: A Proactive Approach. New England Journal of Criminal and Ci vil Confinement, 35(357), 357 372. Russell, R. T. (2015). Veteran Treatment Courts. Touro Law Review, 31(3), 384 401. Retrieved from Sedgwick, P., & Greenwood, N. (2015). Understanding the hawthorne effect. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 351 doi:10.1136/bmj.h4672 Schopp, R. F. (2011, March). Pursuing non adversarial justice within an adversarial structure. Monash University Law Review, 37(1), 102+. R etrieved from http://auraria 18&sid=summon&asid=054788548e1c05cb9ee788213aba757e Thomas, D. R. (2006). A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. American journal of evaluation, 27(2), 237 246. Totman, B. (2013). Seeing the Justice System Through a Soldier's Eyes: A Call to Action for Maryland to Adopt a Veterans Treatment Court System. J. Health Care L. & Pol 'y, 16, 431. Ungvarsky, J. J., Conaty, M., & Bellflower, S. 1. (2012). Back on Track: Life Skills Training for Veterans in the Criminal Justice System. Ideas and Researc h You Can Use: VISTAS, 1, 1 10. Retrieved September, 2018. VanZandt, D. (2012). The d uality of florida's criminal pretrial diversion programs a separate treatment court for veterans.


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48 A PPENDIX A : VETERAN OFFENSES Offense Bringing Veterans to VTC and Issues Faced by Sex in 79 VTCs Not Mutually Exclusive Average % of males Average % of female veterans; veterans; n = 3,357 (SD) n = 219 (SD) Legal Issues (Criminal Offenses) Drug (not DUI/DWI) 49.5 (30.6) 43.4 (42.9) DUI or DWI 39.0 (23.6) 48.7 (44.6) Theft or fraud 22.4 (20.4) 40.4 (34.5) Domesti c violence 20.7 (19.6) 9.8 (12.0) Violent (not domestic) 17.6 (16.4) 27.0 (38.30 Traffic (not DUI/DWI) 10.9 (16.0) 3.7 (6.6) Weapons 8.6 (8.3) 0.6 (1.1) Prostitution 5.5 (18.6) 6.5 (8.0) Extralegal issues faced Substance abuse 81.1 (19.6) 67.6 (38. 9) Mental health 68.4 (25.4) 58.8 (40.0) Family issues 55.7 (32.0) 53.6 (40.9) Anger, aggression, violence 44.0 (26.5) 24.6 (33.1) 44.0 (26.5) 24.6 (33.1) Homelessness 34.2 (27.0) 31.3 (33.5) Note. VTC = veterans treatment court; DUI/DWI = driving und er the influence/driving while intoxicated.




50 A PPENDIX C : INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Juan Rodriguez Jr. University of Colorado Denver Protocol #: 17 2098 JUAN.RODRIGUEZ@UCDENVER.EDU taff have on probationers? Interview questionnaire Judge and Colleagues How long have you worked in the courts? How long have you worked in specialty How many judges have you worked for? How do you feel about the presiding judge? Do you see a significant difference in the way this judge holds court compared to how other judges hold traditional court? How does the judge feel about the probationers from your perspective? Does the judge feel an added pressure to assist in the success of the probationers in comparison to traditional court? How does the judge make the atmosphere of court a positive or negative environment? How do your colleges view the judge? Do your colleagues feel tha t they make a positive or negative impact on the probationers? In what ways? Do your colleagues feel a connection to the probationers? How do you feel that your colleagues could better impact the probationers? Is it your perception that some of your colle agues have a negative impact on the probationers? If so, how and why? Perceptions of the Program How are individuals chosen to be a part of the program? How do you view those who come before the court? How do you feel this differs from traditional court? What services does the VTC offer that is different than a traditional court? Is the treatment uniform or individualized for the probationers?


51 What are the phases of the program? Should they be modified in anyway? Why or why not? What are the strengths and weakness of the program? How much discretion do you feel that you have? What are some of the common reasons for success and failure in the program? What is defined as success or failure? Does failure only mean some type of incarceration? What are some common characteristics of a probationer who fails? What are some common characteristics of a probationer who succeeds? How do you feel about the mentors? Do they have significant value? How do they impact the function of the court? How do they impact the probationer? Do you feel this program should be expanded? If yes, in what ways? In the criminal justice system, there is a tendency to look at all crime through a single lens. With your probationers, are there overall themes or is each case different? Of everyone who sits in the pre court conference, who has the most influence besides the judge? Job Satisfaction What is your role in the treatment of the probationers? What do you enjoy about your job? What do you dislike? How long do you feel that you would want to be in this type of setting? What would you like to do long term? In general, how do you feel your relationship with the probationers is? Do you feel empathetic? How do you feel when a probationer succeeds? How do you measure success in contrast to how the court views success? For you, is success different from individual to individual? How do you feel when someone has a setback? How do you view these struggles? Do you fe el that your voice is being heard? Do you feel a bond with those individuals who sit at the pre court conference? How strong is that bond? Does the stress of the position you are in impact your personal life? Has it changed how you view the probationers?


52 *All forms can be returned to me via email. **Thank you again for your participation.


53 A PPENDIX D : CONSENT FORM COMIRB APP ROVED For Use 19 Jun 2018 18 Jun 2019 Principal Investigator: Juan Rodriguez Jr. COMIRB No: 17 2098 Version Date: 6/14/2018 Study Title: What impact does the Veteran's Treatment Court staff have on probationers? You are being asked to be in a research study. This form provides you with information about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask questions about understand before deciding whether or not to take part. Why is this study being done? Court have on the probationers. The staff will also be aske d for their opinions on ways to improve the program in place as well as parts that they dislike. You are being asked to be in this research study because you have an interaction with the probationers that is unique. This unique perspective can be invaluab le to others who are not privilege to his type of information. Up to 12 people will participate in the study. What happens if I join this study? Court and all speci alty courts in Arapahoe County. The knowledge gained in this research can be used to further improve the courts. You will be observed in the pre trial conference over a few months. When the time is appropriate, you will be asked approximately 20 questions about your experiences. At most,


54 this will only take 2 hours of your time. These interviews will be digitally recorded. The identity of the interviewee will be kept confidential as I will be the only one who knows which individual makes which responses. What are the possible discomforts or risks? Discomforts you may experience while in this study include are the interview questions. You may have a difficult time answering questions about your perceptions of which members of the team and the influence in d ecision making process. The questions are limited to the work environment. There are no personal questions. What are the possible benefits of the study? Courts. The benefit is to the future of the courts. There is no personal benefit except for the opportunity to express your views. Will I be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for anything? You will not be paid to be in the study. It will not cost y ou anything to be in the study. Who will see my research information? We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed. Both the research records that identify you and the consent form signed by you may be looked at by others who have a legal right to see that information. Federal agencies that monitor human subject research Human subject Research Committee The group doing the study The group paying for the study Regulatory officials from the institute where the rese arch is being conducted who want to make sure the research is safe The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the research may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when information is presented.


55 The i nterviews will be recorded on a digital recorder. The interviewee recordings will be deleted 1 year after the research is completed. Agreement to be in this study and use my data I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand t he possible risks and benefits of this study. I understand and authorize the access, use and disclosure of my information as stated in this form. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose to be in this study: I will get a signed and dated c opy of this consent form. Signature: Date: Print Name: Consent form explained by: Date: Print Name: Investigator: _______________________________ Date: _______ Investigator must sign within ___ [maximum 30] days