Call For Nominations - 2016:

The ILAPSC Board of Directors announces that nominations are now being accepted for membership on the Board. Board terms are three years in length. Nominees need not be ILAPSC members, but they must be engaged in some manner with an Illinois Problem-Solving Court in order to be considered.

Nominations must be sent electronically to

Deadline for submissions is June 6, 2016.

Each nomination must be accompanied by a resume or brief biographical sketch of the nominee, and a statement explaining how the nominee will make an active contribution to the Board. Please submit in Microsoft Word to facilitate transmission and reproduction.

The Nominating Committee will review submissions and make recommendations to the Board by July 8th . These recommendations and supporting material will be made available to the membership online after the July meeting each year.

How Kane County mental health court reshaped 3 lives:

Courtesy Daily Herald March 10, 2016 - Written by: Marie Wilson

Mental health, a growing concern: In an occasional series, the Daily Herald explores how the suburbs respond to conditions of the mind. Today, we sit in on the Kane County Treatment Alternative Court, designed to help nonviolent offenders with mental illness get treatment and stabilize their lives.

Casey Clark, 19, is in court for a follow-up hearing on his residential burglary conviction.

For his efforts, he's given a round of applause.

That's the way the Kane County Treatment Alternative Court -- one of 24 mental health courts in the state -- is supposed to work.

The courts are examples of an alternative sentencing program that took hold in the suburbs in the mid-2000s. Those who run the programs look for cases in which an offender's unmanaged mental illness is a major contributing factor in nonviolent crime -- even if the person doesn't know it.

"Unfortunately when they come in, a lot of the people don't want mental health treatment. We have to teach them what is a problem," said Lindsey Liddicoatt, coordinator of the Treatment Alternative Court  program in Kane County. "We're opening the door and introducing them to the mental health world."

The programs aren't always successful. Roughly 16 percent of the graduates of mental health courts in the suburbs reoffend. Another 39 percent fail to complete the program.

The Daily Herald was invited to spend a day in mental health court by Associate Judge Clint Hull, who presides over it. Three offenders' stories emerged.

Click here  to read the article in it's entirety.


Associate Judge Clint Hull leads the Treatment
Alternative Court mental health program, where
he oversees the progress of participants such as Casey Clark of Aurora.
Credit Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, Daily Herald

Ex-Addicts' Fine Art, Writing Illustrate Kane Drug Court'S Success Story:

One of the 16th Circuit Court's most creative initiatives is using creativity itself to help break the costly cycle of crime.

On Wednesday, you can see proof of that in the artwork created by former addicts.

The Kane County Drug Rehabilitation Court will hold the 5th Annual Fine Art and Writing Show from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the Jury Assembly Room, JC-100, located on the first floor of the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles.

The artwork and writings - some of it truly breathtaking, all of it passionate - are submitted by current drug court participants as well as recent graduates. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

According to 16th Circuit Associate Judge Marmarie Kostelny, as many as 95 percent of drug users who leave jail start using again. Kane County's drug court offers a cost-effective alternative - an intensive, 30-month program of treatment, counseling and monitoring aimed at keeping drug addicts out of the revolving court system.

The art show is presented as a positive, sober event for drug court participants and is intended to encourage healthy and creative activities. The art often represents the participants' hard work in recovery, their thoughts on addiction and their efforts at reunification with others. By working with Kane County Drug Court, participants commit to their recovery under close judicial supervision for 30 months of intensive treatment and probation.

"When a defendant enters into our drug court program, they have often spent years and sometimes decades abusing illegal drugs and engaging in criminal activity," Kostelny said. "During that time, they have lost healthy relationships with their families and friends and have often forgotten how to engage in normal, pro-social activities."

On Wednesday, you'll have a chance to see a wide variety of art forms, including some live music, video submissions as well as more-traditional paintings and collages. Light hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served by drug court participants who have volunteered to assist with the event.

"Our Kane County Drug Court team works hard to help individuals engage in sober, healthy and positive relationships and activities," Kostelny said. "We do this by organizing events such as an annual family picnic, book clubs, holiday parties and our annual art show. The art show is specifically designed to encourage creative expression and often the works submitted reflect on the artist's addiction and recovery".

"The show also provides an excellent opportunity to appreciate art in general. Participants are very proud of the work they submit for the show and we are all very moved by the ideas and emotions expressed through the art."


McHenry County's Drug Court Program Graduates Six

Courtesy of the Northwest Herald   Tuesday, May 13, 2014: By CHELSEA McDOUGALL:

The last time Ronnie Bianchi's name occupied this space, it was after police surrounded his Wonder Lake home as part of an early morning drug raid.

Authorities led Bianchi off in handcuffs, and charged him with felony possession of a controlled substance.

This time Bianchi's name makes it on the front page, it's because he was celebrating a victory over drug addiction.

Bianchi, who is not related to the McHenry County state's attorney, was one of six men who graduated Tuesday from the county's Drug Court program. Together, the six, all recovering heroin addicts, marked 2,102 days of sobriety.

Had they been typically prosecuted, they were facing 13 years in prison - at a minimum. They were instead recommended for Drug Court as an alternative to traditional prosecution.

Participation in the drug court program means drug treatment, frequently checking in with program officials, appearing in court and submitting to drug screens. Some may also be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Another requirement for graduation is a full year of sobriety.

"You guys know better than anybody - this is not an easy program to complete," said Scott Block, director of the program.

The goal is to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among the program's nonviolent offenders, and at the same time, save money on costly prosecutions and incarceration.

Ninety-one people have participated in the drug court, including 16 who have graduated, since the program started in 2011. At least 80 of those were heroin addicts.

Combining the criminal history of the current participants and alumni, there were 782 prior misdemeanors, felonies and DUIs within McHenry County alone, Block said.

State's Attorney Lou Bianchi read off a laundry list of prior offenses for Tuesday's graduates: aggravated assault, possession of a controlled substance, DUI, disorderly conduct, theft, residential burglary, trespassing, domestic battery. The list goes on.

"You guys covered every charge in the criminal code," the state's attorney said. "But you made it. Congratulations."

Ronnie Bianchi's intake photo from the day he started the drug court program was on display behind him as he accepted his certificate for completing the program. In the photo he had pale skin, deep dark circles under his eyes, unkempt hair, scraggly facial hair.

On Tuesday, wearing a suit and tie, Ronnie Bianchi beamed when he thanked his drug court team that included probation officers, treatment providers, a judge and members of the state's attorney's and sheriff's offices.

Click here  to view the original article.

Macon County First Drug Court Graduation - March 29, 2014:

People came together Friday afternoon at the Macon County Courts Facility as the first graduation class of the county's Hybrid Court, a specialty court that manages drug and alcohol abuse cases through comprehensive supervision, drug and alcohol testing, treatment and sanctions/incentives.

Click here  to view the rest of the story.

Get Out Of Jail Clean

Courtesy of the Illinois Times   Thursday, August 1, 2013: by Bruce Rushton

It is Friday, and drug court is back in session on the seventh floor of the Sangamon County courthouse.

As on every Friday at 11 a.m., two dozen or so participants in the county's fledgling drug court wait for the judge, discussing results of tests that determine whether they've been drinking or doping. Pass and you get a candy bar from a small bucket kept adjacent to the bench where the judge presides. Fail and you could end up in jail for a few days or weeks - it's all up to the judge, who will take into account your track record when deciding on a penalty.

One man tells those around him why a positive result wouldn't be surprising.

"They told me no mouthwash or cologne, but they didn't say anything about body spray," says the man, concerned that he may have inadvertently contaminated his sample with alcohol-based body cleanser.

He turns up clean and walks away with a Kit Kat. Another who has tested positive for cocaine is ordered to jail for 30 days by Associate Judge Brian Otwell, who is filling in for Associate Judge Pete Cavanagh, who usually presides.

Then there are the three guys who met in drug court and have gotten in trouble together.

Click here  to view the rest of the story.

McHenry County Mental Health Court prepares for graduation

Courtesy of the Northwest Herald   Thursday, August 4, 2013: By CHELSEA McDOUGALL:

In one arrest, Michelle Ciccarelli was caught stealing a cart full of Christmas wreaths.

Thirty-five wreaths to be exact.

To this day, Ciccarelli can't explain why she did it, but in some twisted way she's glad she did. That's not to say she doesn't feel remorseful - only that it took hitting rock bottom before the Marengo resident got the help she didn't realize she needed.

"How do you tell your doctor what you're going through when you don't understand what's going on?" Ciccarelli said. "Unfortunately, it took something like landing in the court program to get what I really needed."

After a 2011 retail theft arrest, Ciccarelli was accepted into McHenry County's Mental Health Court. She and seven others are set to graduate Tuesday from the program.

"I feel like I'm riding a bike and the training wheels are being taken off," she said about completing the program. "It's exciting because I was so afraid for so long."

The county's Mental Health Court is designed for nonviolent defendants diagnosed with mental illness. In lieu of traditional punishment, the program diverts participants to treatment or other judicial recommendations.

Once the program is completed, criminal charges are dropped or reduced.

"The carrot at the end is not only treatment and stability, but all their charges are dropped," said Scott Block, specialty court administrator in McHenry County.

Ciccarelli, 28, was diagnosed with a mood disorder and attention deficit disorder. She's now on regulated medication.

She remembers her first appearance in Mental Health Court before McHenry County Judge Charles Weech.

"I felt like I was surrounded by criminals," she said.

Soon, Ciccarelli made friends and realized she had more in common with her fellow participants than she once thought.

Click here  to view the original article.

22nd Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court Celebrates "National Drug Court Month" With Commencement Ceremony

In celebration of "National Drug Court Month," the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court will hold a commencement ceremony on May 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm in Courtroom 204 of the McHenry County Government Center. Director of the Office of Special Projects for the Twenty Second Circuit Scott Block and Trial Court Administrator James "Dan" Wallis will officiate the commencement ceremony. County Board Chairwoman Tina Hill, State's Attorney Louis Bianchi and Undersheriff Andrew Zinke will be making comments as part of the program. Circuit Judge Michael W. Feetterer will be presenting graduation certificates to those individuals who have successfully completed the program.

This is the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court's Inaugural Graduation Ceremony after being convened on December 1, 2011.

Five individuals who have worked extremely hard to change their lives and live in recovery are expected to be among this year's graduates. The ceremony marks their completion of an intensive program of comprehensive drug treatment, close supervision and full accountability.

"National Drug Court Month" is coordinated on a national level by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). This year, Drug Courts throughout the nation are celebrating National Drug Court Month with the theme: "Drug Courts: Where Accountability Meets Compassion." The forthcoming ceremony is evidence of the tremendous impact the Twenty Second Circuit Adult Drug Court has had on our community and will send a powerful message that Drug Courts are a proven budget solution that saves lives and money.

Like the other 2,600 operational Drug Courts in the United States, the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit is a judicially-supervised court docket which reduces correctional costs, protects community safety and improves public welfare. In Drug Courts, seriously drug&$45;addicted individuals remain in treatment for long periods of time while under close supervision. Drug Court participants must meet their obligation to themselves, their families and society. To ensure accountability, they are regularly and randomly tested for drug use, required to appear frequently in court for the judge to review their progress, rewarded for doing well and sanctioned for not living up to their obligations. Research continues to show that Drug Courts work better than jail or prison, better than probation, and better than treatment alone.

Drug Courts are this nation's most effective strategy at reducing recidivism among seriously drug addicted, nonviolent offenders with long criminal histories. Nationally, 75% of individuals who complete Drug Court are not re-arrested. Since its inception, the Twenty Second Circuit Adult Drug Court has recorded an 18% recidivism rate from those who have participated. Nationally Drug Courts have been found to save up to $13,000 for every individual they serve and return as much as $27 for every $1 invested. A cost benefit analysis of the Twenty Second Circuit's Adult Drug Court was found to cost approximately $8,000.00 per offender as opposed to incarceration costs which can estimate anywhere between $25,000.00 and $38,000.00 per year. "Drug Courts are a proven budget solution and must be expanded," said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. "This May, Drug Courts throughout the country are demonstrating that a combination of accountability and compassion should be the foundation upon which our criminal justice system handles drug addicted individuals. By treating our chronically addicted offenders, we can save vast amounts of money, protect public safety and reduce drug abuse in the community." Mr. Huddleston acknowledged the progress of the last two decades but stated that more can be done. "In order to truly end the cycle of substance abuse and crime," he added, "we must put a Drug Court within reach of every eligible American."

For more Information on the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court Program contact:
Scott A. Block  - 
Director, Office of Special Projects
Twenty Second Judicial Circuit
2200 N. Seminary Ave.
Woodstock, IL 60098
(815) 334-4913 Phone


Alby Zweig Goes From Drug Addict to Drug Court Magistrate

Credits: The Colorado Independent | By Susan Greene Posted: 03/19/2013

Alby Zweig knows what it's like to need a heroin fix so badly you're willing to pawn your parents' stereo to score it. He gets what it means to be so strung out on cocaine you're convinced police are hiding under your house.

Zweig knows because he's a recovered junkie.

He's also Denver's newest drug court magistrate.

"I have a suspicion that in the history of American jurisprudence, nobody else has ever gone from criminal defendant to judicial officer," says Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt, who appointed Zweig and swore him in earlier this month. "This story is emblematic of what drug court is all about. It's a therapeutic court that gives people a second chance. I doubt that anybody has taken advantage of a second chance as much as Alby Zweig."

Zweig, 44, started with the kind of occasional drug use common to members of his generation. He took mushrooms and LSD in high school and drank a lot in college. It was the late 1980s when, despite the "the whole Nancy Reagan don't-do-drugs" messaging of the era, he says his recreational substance use didn't affect his schoolwork or relationships like the public service announcements warned they would.

But then he tried heroin, and tried it again, until he went from smoking it to injecting it and would do almost anything for a fix. He likens heroin addiction to "having a chain around your neck that's tied to a semi-truck pulling you forward while you're trying to pull the other way."

-It was super, super powerful. I really, really wanted to quit. I wanted to so bad but I could not. I just could not," he says.

Zweig spent much of his 20s moving from city to city, time zone to time zone, convinced each time it would be tougher to find dealers in a new place.

"There was San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Chicago, New York, Boston. I'd score in one city just to make it to the next city. It became clear that regardless of where I went, the addiction would follow."

Figuring he could get clean in a city where heroin was more difficult to find, he moved to Ottawa, the Canadian capital, to seek counseling from a Buddhist psychologist known for his success helping clients kick heroin habits. While in treatment, Zweig got hooked on cocaine, learning how to break down crack with vinegar so he could inject it. His coke addiction brought on paranoia that led him to see police everywhere - if only in his head.

"I remember digging down into the crawl space in my parents' house because I was convinced there was a police-monitoring operation down there and I was trying to out them," he says.

Zweig went from detox to rehab, then back again - in and out, unable to get clean. Nothing worked. His parents kicked him out of their house and Zweig learned to survive homeless. He lived for a spell in a closet for rollaway beds in a Super 8 motel in northwest Denver. When he was kicked out of the Super 8, he took up residence in a grove of trees alongside I-25.

In 1995, he was arrested for heroin possession and spent a night in jail going through withdrawal.

His mom, Marlene Zweig, remembers noticing her son teetering between two identities during the height of his addiction. Sometimes he was himself, Alby - "loving, tender and honest." And sometimes he was "Albz" - someone who was angry, dying inside and unknowable.

Zweig became convinced he couldn't quit or endure the probation program he was offered in Denver Drug Court. He figured it was a matter of time before he'd be hauled off to prison where, at 5'7" and 135 lbs, he was pretty sure he'd be "eaten alive." At age 29, he set his mind on killing himself.

"I went to the library and got a book called 'Final Exit' for people who are terminally ill and want to commit suicide without screwing it up. I thought it was better not to live than to live an entire life in the heroin and coke scene. So I was going to try to overdose on opiates with a plastic bag over my head. It was all supposed to be kind of painless and foolproof," he says.

Zweig being Zweig - pathologically honest and thoughtful, even while high - went to his parents to say that, should anything ever happen to him, his addiction wasn't their fault.

"What kind of kid tells his parents he's going to kill himself? That's so Alby," says his mom, half laughing, half crying as she remembers the conversation 18 years ago.

She also remembers what she told him: That he couldn't die. No way. She couldn't bear it.

"At that point, that moment, it was like there was a crack in the dam that had been keeping me from seeing how much I'd been hurting my family and friends," Zweig recalls. "That dam broke and I decided I was going to give this probation a real shot."

Mother and son went that day to put him on a waiting list for a methadone clinic at Denver Health. Over about four years, the methadone helped him stay off heroin. He got jobs as a tree trimmer and working the front desk of a Residence Inn whose manager let him use a hotel room before each shift to shower. Zweig worked at regaining the trust of his family and friends. And he learned to get comfortable accepting the support of the public defender, social worker, methadone clinic worker, probation officer and judge who - working together as part of the drug court's program - were invested in his recovery.

"Once I stopped using, I felt carried along by people, by the system. It's hard to explain, but the way I picture it is like a river. If you flow with the river, everything is easy, effortless. And if you go against it, everything seems impossibly difficult. I don't really take credit for what happened to me. I just finally let myself be supported."

With characteristic candor, Zweig disclosed his drug history when he decided to apply for law school. In hindsight, he thinks his drug past may have helped far more than his college grades or LSAT scores. His classmates at the University of Denver chose him in 2002 to give their commencement speech in which he reminded his classmates that every one of them had benefited from the help of others, and therefore were obligated to give back to the community.

Zweig at first decided not to practice, convinced that law "drains everything it touches of its magic." About four years after law school, after stints in a graduate program in public policy and a job as a private investigator, he took the bar exam and passed. Then he had to convince the state bar to admit him despite his criminal record. Zweig snagged a job in the same public defenders office that had advocated for him. Soon after, he was sitting in his boss's office when a call came that Denver was revamping its drug court and would need a public defender. Something clicked.

"I wanted to be that guy representing those clients. I pestered my boss, Charlie Garcia, for about a week to put me in drug court," he says of an assignment that many of his more ambitious colleagues tried their hardest to avoid.

The work was close to home and the clients familiar. He says he rarely meets a client whose addiction doesn't make sense. "There's a certain type who becomes an addict. They're really sweet, sensitive people who feel really deeply. It's because of that that the drugs work with them. It's rare that I meet an addict that I'm not empathetic with."

Despite many of his similarities with his clients, though, he knows he has had many advantages that they don't have - a college education, a supportive family, no mental health issues and the fact that he is white.

Defending addicts put Zweig in some tough spots. It was his job to get them help for their addictions if they wanted it. But for the many who didn't, his role was to advocate his hardest to keep them out of jail and, in effect, leave them out on the streets, where he knew they'd just continue using.

"It was hard because part of my job was to enable them," he says. "Now, as a magistrate, I can say 'Try this even if you don't want to try this.' If they say no, I'm going to say, 'I'm requiring you to try this, even if you don't want to because we're going to do it my way."

Hyatt says he appointed Zweig not for his personal history - "as interesting and inspiring as it is" - but because he was the "most experienced, knowledgeable and outstanding candidate out of dozens upon dozens of applications."

"It would have been very hard not to hire him," he says.

Zweig has no intention of going easy on the addicts who appear in his courtroom, because he knows that going easy won't help them. He's convinced that the difference between success and failure kicking addiction "is really taking that step to surrender and really trying to allow the world to help you.

"It's that river thing - letting yourself flow with the river," he says. "If somebody told the Alby back then that some day I'd be a magistrate, I'd never had believed it. I would have said 'No, no way. You don't understand. You don't know where I am.'"

Zweig doesn't plan on sharing the details of his own biography each time an addict comes before him. But, in the likely event that one of them says that he, with his black robe and high bench, doesn't know what it's like, he's not exactly sure how he'll respond.

"I might say 'I do know where you've been, because I've been there, and I know that, if you allow yourself to be helped, the potential for profound change in drug court is enormous."


Matthew Perry and Conan O'Brien Talk Drug Courts

All Rise Ambassador Matthew Perry continues to make a huge impact for Drug Courts, treatment and recovery while on the national talk show circuit in support of his smash NBC comedy Go On! Just days after meeting with former President Bill Clinton, the star was on Conan last night where he spoke candidly about why he believes Drug Court is such a critical, life-saving program.

Conan opened the segment by saying, "I don't know exactly what Drug Court is, tell me about Drug Court; it sounds like a great cause". "It is a great cause," Matthew said. "Drug Court is this huge system of judges across America. They are very knowledgeable about addiction. . .and instead of throwing them [offenders] away in jail, they put them in two years of rehab." Matthew went on to say "When I was in active addiction I broke some laws and I was fortunate I never got arrested. Had I got arrested and thrown in the prison system, I wouldn't be here to help others." He continued, "Instead of being thrown in the prison system they are getting better." Matthew's passionate statement about Drug Courts was met with huge cheers from the audience. "They are being helped," said Conan. "Drug Court. . .a great cause."

Click here to view the video online.


National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Announces 2012 National Achievement Award Winners

Honorees help veterans, survivors of natural disasters, substance users, and the poor.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) today announced the four recipients of its 2012 national awards program. The awards are given for the Social Worker of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Public Citizen of the Year, and Public Elected Official of the Year.

This year's recipients include social workers who helped survivors in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and increased professional and public understanding of the trauma Vietnam veterans may experience; a judge who found ways to secure treatment for people addicted to alcohol or drugs; and a Texas lawmaker who has advocated for the elderly, poor families and at-risk youth.

-NASW is proud to honor the selfless service these individuals have given to some of the most vulnerable members of our society,- said NASW President Jeane Anastas, PhD, LMSW. -Their work demonstrates the positive impact that social workers, citizens and public officials who support social work causes can make. They have made this world a better place.-

The Honorable Jeffrey Ford, JD Receives the 2012 Public Citizen of the Year Award: Ford is the Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. In March of 1999, Judge Ford founded the Champaign County Adult Drug Court and has served there for the past 13 years. Under his leadership and direction, Champaign has one of the most successful drug courts in the state. Since its inauguration the drug court has saved not only scores of defendants who faced repeated incarceration and possible death, but their families and communities that would have been negatively affected if these defendants had not beat back their addictions

Click here to view the video online.


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