Court Closures Create Innovative Workarounds

In response to COVID-19, many U.S. courts and their agencies are adjusting the way they operate. Different courts in different jurisdictions are making their own modifications under the circumstances that have included, among other things:


  • Closing courthouses, either to the public or altogether

  • Continuing trials and cancelling non-case related activities

  • Rescheduling or permitting videoconferencing of arraignments, hearings and oral arguments


But as the pandemic drags on, and social distancing guidance continues to push reopening dates out further, many courts are weighing how to balance these public safety requirements with Speedy Trial Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 3161-3174) deadlines for indictments and trials.


For most jurisdictions, however, electronic filing technology has allowed court systems to continue to serve the needs of all parties to process cases. Some jurisdictions are even allowing pro se filings to be fulfilled via email.


Law Enforcement Citations

Many law enforcement agencies are working to increase the use of citations, summons in lieu of custodial arrest, and other pre-arrest diversion (PAD) programs to keep offenders out of detention centers, pretrial meetings, and court rooms.


One notable example has been Florida’s expanded use of its juvenile and adult Civil Citation program. This system is functionally a pre-arrest diversion program that allows police to issue a citation to juvenile and adult offenders that commit certain non-violent, misdemeanor crimes. The civil citation is in lieu of an arrest or Notice to Appear, and law enforcement have significant discretion when writing infractions.


Diversions and Sanctions

Many prosecutors are also proactively expanding the use of their diversion programs, streamlining application processes, eligibility reviews and intervention programming. Prosecutors with misdemeanor diversion programs are placing as many defendants into the programs as possible; and some prosecutors are even examining their felony diversion programs for ways to make those more expedited with remote intervention strategies.

Likewise, because Courts are typically burdened by revocation hearing for probation and parole technical violations, probation and community corrections professionals have been expanding the use of sanctions in lieu of revocation. Most of these agencies have moved to telephonic-only or significantly-reduced case meetings, so non-incarceration sanctions have become a valuable tool in their toolboxes to keep revocations down.


These innovate approaches, especially when combined and facilitated by electronic filings, are creating a simple, yet effective strategy for maintaining public safety and order despite the challenges of physical court closures.


The Advent Advantage

The Advent eLearning platform provides a turn-key solution for rapid implementation of these innovative approaches for physical Court workarounds:


  • Law enforcement agencies can use the platform to manage citations, assign and track interventions, manage program fees and billing, and support disposition decisioning.

  • Prosecutors can use the platform to create and manage diversion agreements, assign and track interventions, manage program fees and billing, and create and manage documents for electronic dismissal filing.

  • Community corrections case workers can use the platform to assign court-ordered interventions and sanction programming, track and manage their individual cases to completion, and access online completion certificates and audits for case management documentation.


These agencies can choose to deploy online treatment programs under either an “offender-paid” model whereby the offender pays for the cost of treatment, including any of their costs, or under an “agency-paid” model whereby these agencies are invoiced for the costs of treatment. There are no license or other fees to use the platform, and most agencies can be up and running on the platform within a day.


Treatment Programs Available

Advent offers over 20 online treatment programs, each developed by Ph.D. level subject matter experts using the latest evidence on appropriate treatment using Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment (CBT) protocols. Some of the most widely used programs include:


  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse for adult alcohol and drug possession violations

  • Anger Management for minor assault and other conflict offenses

  • Corrective Thinking for general nuisance/public order violations and offenses

  • Marijuana Education for possession, medical misuse and other marijuana offenses

  • Parenting for endangerment, neglect, non-support and other family issues

  • Shoplifting for retail theft and Theft for non-retail petty theft offenses

  • Traffic Safety for motor vehicle violations and offenses

  • Underage Substance Abuse for juvenile alcohol and drug possession and misuse

For a complete catalog of online programs, visit www.adventelearning.com.


To Get Started

To learn more about our distance treatment programs and eLearning management platform, including demonstrations and reviews of our content, please email us today at info@adventfs.com or contact your AdventFS sales representative.

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