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Recovery Courts in Tennessee

Tennessee's 82 recovery courts are judicially-supervised court dockets that reduce correctional costs, protect community safety, and improve public welfare. In recovery courts, non-violent individuals with substance use disorders participate in treatment while under close legal and clinical supervision.

Click the image below for a onepager on Tennessee's Recovery Courts.

BHSN of TN

Learn more about the different types of Recovery Courts in Tennessee below.

An adult drug court is a specially designed court calendar – or docket – with a goal to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among drug-involved adult offenders in the community. An adult drug court seeks to increase the offender’s likelihood of successful recovery through continuous, intense judicially-supervised treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing, community supervision and use of appropriate sanctions and other rehabilitation services.

Veterans treatment courts are hybrid drug and mental health courts that use the recovery drug court model to serve veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders. They promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional partners found in drug and mental health courts, with the addition of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans’ Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors and veterans and veterans’ family support organizations. The veterans treatment court model uses volunteer veteran mentors and veterans’ family support organizations to help defendants engage in treatment and counseling, as well as partners with local Veterans Affairs offices to ensure that participants receive proper benefits.

Modeled after drug courts and developed in response to the over representation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system, mental health courts divert select defendants with mental health disorders into judicially-supervised, community-based treatment. Defendants are invited to participate in the mental health court following a specialized screening and assessment. For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals work together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community.

A DWI court is a distinct post-conviction court system dedicated to changing the behavior of the alcohol-dependent repeat offender arrested for driving while impaired (DWI). The goal of the DWI court is to protect public safety by using the drug court model to address the root cause of impaired driving – alcohol and other drugs of abuse. Variants of DWI courts include drug courts that also take DWI offenders, which are commonly referred to as “hybrid” DUI courts or DUI/drug courts. DWI courts often enhance their close monitoring of offenders using home and field visits, as well as technological innovations such as Ignition Interlock devices and transdermal alcohol detection devices.

A juvenile drug court is a docket within a juvenile court, to which selected delinquency cases and in some instances status offenders, are referred for handling by a designated judge. The youth referred to this docket are identified as having problems with alcohol and/or other drugs. During the program, the juvenile treatment court team meets frequently (often weekly), determining how best to address the substance abuse and related problems of the youth and his or her family that have brought the youth into contact with the justice system.

Family dependency treatment court is a juvenile or family court docket, for which selected abuse, neglect and dependency cases are identified, when parental substance abuse is a primary factor. Judges, attorneys, child protection services and treatment personnel unite with the goal of providing safe, nurturing and permanent homes for children while simultaneously providing parents the necessary support and services to become drug and alcohol abstinent. Family dependency treatment courts aid parents in regaining control of their lives and promote long-term stabilized recovery to enhance the possibility of family reunification within mandatory legal timeframes.

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Important Links

Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals - https://tarcp.org/
National Association of Drug Court Professionals - https://www.nadcp.org/
Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards - https://www.nadcp.org/standards/adult-drug-court-best-practice-standards/
Family Treatment Court Best Practice Standards - https://www.nadcp.org/standards/family-treatment-court-best-practice-standards/
National Drug Court Institute - https://www.ndci.org/
Defining Drug Courts: The Ten Key Components - https://www.ndci.org/ten-key-components/
Justice for Vets - https://justiceforvets.org/
Bureau of Justice Assistance (The Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court) - https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/Publications/MHC_Essential_Elements.pdf
National Drug Court Resource Center - https://ndcrc.org/
National Center for State Courts - https://www.ncsc.org/Topics/Alternative-Dockets/Problem-Solving-Courts/Home.aspx
Justice Center: The Council of State Governments (Mental Health Courts) - http://learning.csgjusticecenter.org/
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines) - https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/programs/juvenile-drug-treatment-court-guidelines

For More Information

If you or a loved one need a referral to substance abuse treatment services, please call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789

If you feel at any time that you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line toll-free 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-855-274-7471.

To learn more about this program, please contact:

Rebekah Provost-Emmons
Recovery Court Administrator
615-532-1626
Rebekah.Provost-Emmons@tn.gov