The Poor Man’s Route to Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation

We are all quite familiar with drug and alcohol problems.  When the wealthy announce one of theirs has a problem, one envisions the addict or abuser in  the nice, expensive environs of Southern California, Palm Beach or the Arizona desert.  Classes include horseback riding, yoga, arts and crafts, nutrition  and physical fitness.  These programs are tremendously costly and marketed heavily in the moneyed community.  Most cities and counties have some type of “drug court” and/or some type of residential drug treatment.  In Duval County a separate felony division encompasses drug court.  A person arrested on a felony charge, if offered the chance at drug court will go through a 12-18 month program with at least weekly meetings at the courthouse.  The meetings are run in a court setting with plenty of encouragement from a sitting magistrate functioning as the group leader. It is still very much a courtroom with armed bailiffs who routinely cuff up those with dirty urine samples.  Those who do not obey the rules of drug court are subject to going to jail on a contempt of court charge.  That will happen a few times and the person will be kicked out of the program.  The felony case goes back to a line attorney for a filing decision on the original charge.  The felony almost always gets filed.  At this point the offender has blown a chance at cleaning up and will also pick up a criminal record.  The felony would have been dropped upon completion of drug court, assuming no other problems or criminal activity.  It is usually a drug crime or property crime strike on one’s record.

Drug and Alcohol Programs in Jail

Duval County has an outstanding drug abuse program in the jail.  The Matrix Program is run within the jail by a contractor, River Region Human Services.  The program is only for inmates.  The actual drug treatment program is 120 days and is run in a very militaristic fashion.  Most attendees are court ordered but inmates can put a request in on their own and see if they are accepted.  Certain crimes of a violent nature will prohibit one’s entry to the Matrix House. Since this is taxpayer money trying to clean people up, the program is limited to applicants who have been residents of Duval County for at least 12 months.   Usually, after the 120 days of treatment, the court will allow early release into “aftercare.”  The aftercare treatment and monitoring is the key to one’s success with the Matrix program.  It is possible to be sent to Matrix more than once.

Commencement Ceremonies and Alumni

I recently attended a commencement ceremony for Matrix alumni.  Eighteen chairs sat on a stage for alumni with 12 months of sobriety after the conclusion of aftercare.  This was a packed, joyous event that occurs every quarter.  Women wore gowns and carried floral bouquets.  Families hugged and took graduation style photos.  All eighteen chose to speak at the podium, limited to three minutes apiece.  Three of the eighteen thanked three felony judges by name who sent them to the program. All thanked their counselors.  About half thanked the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office.  Listening against one wall were the Matrix participants who were still in jail custody, brought over on the jail bus and under the watch of about ten corrections officers. Every speaker offered encouragement to those still in jail and still in the program.  At one point a speaker asked “who has done 120 days?”  About three quarters of the room stood up.  These were the alumni who chose to come back to the commencement.  There was class reunion style chatter and hugs when those who met in jail and went through treatment together ran into each other.  Some were living at shelters, some had two jobs, some were getting to see their kids again, some were getting their teeth fixed after years of drug abuse and, overall, all were totally positive.  All were thankful. All seemed genuine.  All had gone through treatment where the admissions process started with their arrest.

Not everyone gets a shot at programs such as drug court or the Matrix program.  Once a person attains a lengthy record these programs are usually not an option.  Florida drug laws are brutal and damage a person for life.  If you or a family member has a drug crime charge in North Florida get in to see an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.  Many lawyers are experienced drug crime lawyers and offer free consultations.  The Forbess Law Firm has represented thousands charged with drug crimes.  Ray Forbess, Sr., 904-634-0900, always offers a free consultation and/or jail visit as a drug crimes attorney.




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