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Site Visit to Travis County Adult Probation

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Site Visit to the Travis County Adult Probation SMART Program
Tony Lee Merriwether
June 23, 2014
Sheri Meyer

Site Visit to the Travis County Adult Probation SMART Program This paper is an overview of adult probation program designed to provide an alternative to incarceration. The Texas Criminal Justice Program designed the program as a diversionary mechanism to provide comprehensive treatment to offenders that require treatment for substance abuse and chemical dependency. The offenders must meet certain criteria to gain entrance into the program. The program is resident in nature to assist the offenders with re-socialization process. The counseling and intervention sessions are conducted by Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors, (LCDC) which use cognitive behavioral therapies as a treatment tool. The SMART program is very structured in regard to the structure, its mission, and goals. There are strict eligibility requirements that offenders must meet to attend the 20-week program. The program is not gender specific and is available for male and female offenders. There are three levels of treatment provided at the treatment facility. Therapy is provided in the form of individual and group sessions. The writer visited the site while accompanied by LCDC Ms. Vicki Clark Merriwether; Ms. Merriwether gained her experience working with active duty Soldiers as an Alcohol and Drug counselor at several military locations in the United States and Europe. Ms. Merriwether also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. The writer was afforded the opportunity to tour the facility and sit in on a group counseling session. The experience was invaluable in regard to the intellectual insight of the realm of Human Service workers.
Program population The SMART Program participants consist of offenders that are screened in order to meet eligibility. Screening is a prerequisite requirement in order to gain access to the facility. The offenders must be directed by the court to attend the program as a condition of their sanctions. The program participants must have a progressed drug or alcohol abuse problem. The members of the program must exhibit the ability to function in regard mental competence to a degree to understand and take part in SMART related functions. Participation in the program is for non-violent offenders, but Offenders are disqualified if they are pregnancy, diagnosed with chronic psychopathy, demonstrate a propensity for violence, and have committed Title 5 offenses, or Crimes against person which include the following: * Chapter 19 CRIMINAL HOMICIDE * Chapter 20 KIDNAPPING AND UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT * Chapter 21 SEXUAL OFFENSES * Chapter 22 ASSAULTIVE OFFENSES

Who presents the program or interventions? 1. Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDC) and support staff conducts the counseling sessions to the offenders in a group or individual setting. The Travis County Community Supervision and Corrections Department designed the program. The program is administered at a secure resident or inpatient treatment facility. LCDC are charged with interacting with clients and other support staff to create and tailor a plan for treatment. They evaluate progress in regard to accomplishment of previously identified goals that are in line with the mission of the SMART program. This plan also identifies the client's strengths, and weaknesses and the treatment are targeted to mitigate shortcomings in these areas. ("Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program", 2010).
How is the effectiveness of their interventions measured? The graduation or completion rate of the program is an indicator its success. The goals of the SMART program reduce recidivism, and significantly lower the cost of drug abuse and alcohol based crimes. This enables communities to exist in a safer environment. The offenders are taught the necessary skills in order to obtain sustainable employment and inform families of the importance of providing support to offenders while in the recovery stage. Relapse or recidivism is thwarted significantly because of the support in regard to employment and a cognitive transition that promotes positive social attitudes, faith, beliefs, and Behavior. ("Smart Program", n. d.).
How did they determine a need for the program? The Program was implemented to provide an alternative to incarceration. The state of Texas decided to develop an alternative sentencing treatment facility and program (SMART) that provides offenders with substance and alcohol issues a chance to receive the treatment and other rehabilitative services in lieu of incarceration. Although the treatment is conducted in a corrections atmosphere, the opportunity to achieve success is greatly enhanced by the resident treatment facility and aftercare programs to prevent relapses. ("Smart Program", n. d.).
Other programs that use behavior or cognitive models and techniques The state of Texas Criminal Justice System has implemented programs that provide educational opportunities to offenders, offer alternative sentencing programs that require first time offenders to make restitution to persons and communities affected by the crime, and counseling services for those offenders that have drug and alcohol problems. There are community supported outreach programs that offer continuing care in order to help maintain sobriety. The programs are very useful and used to prevent incarceration or as required sanctions while incarcerated. Completion of these programs can lead to the expunging of an offender's record, or the possibility of serving the original punitive sentence, as a result, of non- compliance to the alternative sanction. The programs are listed below: * Counseling center * CSR- Community Service restitution * Pre-Trial Diversion Program * Literacy and GED Education Program * SMART Program- Substance Abuse Residential Treatment Program * TAIP- Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration Program ("Travis County Adult Probation ", 2013).
Other model The choice model is used extensively. The programs offer the offenders choices that will be advantageous to them in regard to going to jail or completing their education, paying retribution, completing the court order punishment without incident or acquiring another criminal case. These violations would result in going to jail and facing the repercussions of the new crime.
The state of Texas is falling in line with the philosophy of Attorney General Holder. Eric Holder is taking a look at eliminating mandatory incarceration for certain drug offenses and focus on treatment. It is unusual for a conservative state like Texas to offer these types of diversionary programs. Texas is a state that has a large prison population, and most of the inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses. Texas is making headway by reducing cost by the use of alternative sentences. The cognitive and behavior models that the writer elaborates on in this writing are useful when the proper treatment is designed and applied to offenders.

Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program. (2010). Assessment. Retrieved from AA& 9jIG7bMsQTV94KgDQ&usg=AFQjCNGG63-u-Hrdyr055A3suzlcP- X0gg&bvm=bv.69620078,d.cWc
Smart Program. (n. d.). Admission Requirements. Retrieved from

Smart Program. (n. d.). Program Goals, Retrieved from
Smart Program. (n. d.). Program Philosophy. Retrieved from
Travis County Adult Probation. (2013). Retrieved from

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