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2005 Testimony

Testimony Before The Senate Judiciary Committee

Regarding Senate Bill 2373 - Commitment of individuals addicted to methamphetamine or other controlled substances

January 31, 2005

Chairman Traynor, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am JoAnne Hoesel, Director of the Division of Mental Health & Substance Abuse for the Department of Human Services. I am here to today to provide information relating to Senate Bill 2373 regarding to the commitment of individuals addicted to methamphetamine or other controlled substances.

  1. The Department's understanding of the intent of this bill is three-fold:
  2.      Target commitment procedures at person addicted to methamphetamine or other controlled substances,
  3. Increase treatment options for those persons committed,
  4. Apply a felony offense if the individuals violate conditions of their court order.

I would like to address the commitment, treatment, and criminal offense issues in the bill.

  • Item 1: The Department of Human Services feels that the individuals identified in this bill are already covered under the current commitment law, North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 25-03.1.  The Department does not believe there will be an increase in the overall number of civil commitments which according to the Supreme Court were 1268 in calendar year 2004. 
  • Item 2: The Department of Human Services needs to acknowledge that some of these dollars are not in the executive budget and is not able to support the bill for this reason. 

The bill mentions an, ‘extensive inpatient drug treatment program.'  This term to the Department would mean a medical facility.   It is felt that the majority of persons covered in this bill would most likely be appropriate for a combination of residential and intensive day treatment services which often are provided in communities.  This is sometimes referred to as clinically managed residential level of care or residential plus day treatment. 

The fiscal note has been prepared with removing what we projected were services already provided by the Department of Human Services.   I want to make a note that dependent upon where the court would order treatment, costs may be impacted by three variables:

  1. location of program,
  2. whether the state owns the residential building,
  3. provider of service,
  4. The treatment episode of individuals will dictate cost, as not each person committed under this bill will need 60 days of Detoxification services or 120 days of residential services. 

The Department has reported to the House Appropriations Committee that substance abuse programs are running at full or beyond capacity in the regional human service centers.  We see approximately twenty-two percent of the substance abuse clients having some level of involvement with methamphetamine/amphetamine in SCY 2004.  Based on proposed legislation in SB 2341, mandatory treatment for first time felony drug offenders, a pilot in the North East region of the state will partner a federal grant submitted by the Department of Human Services and new legislative and judicial tools available to the Department of Corrections.  The partnership will help build a robust continuum of treatment for persons addicted to controlled substances.  The key to effective treatment is treatment at the right time, the right place, the right intensity, and the right duration.  Having a system with available treatment components and matching individual need to treatment levels are critical to treatment outcomes. 

Item #3: Criminal offense status.  The Department of Human Services has concerns that the court is determining the level of service prior to an assessment being done by a licensed addiction counselor.  We understand that it is often necessary to have both formal and informal pressures applied to assist a person to address their addiction due to the denial common in this illness.  It is our belief that the commitment procedure is about getting people into treatment and by placing a felony sanction in this bill, mixes treatment with criminal activity.  We see a risk that the focus will change from treatment to court sanctions.

I am available for any questions. Thank you.


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