Pre-Entry Court is a county probation-based reentry court and an advanced next generation drug court, . Typically, non-violent drug offenders are placed on probation, with a state prison sentence suspended, and the offender ordered to attend, participate, and complete an in-custody treatment program as a condition of probation ( for those legally inclined, “execution of sentence is suspended”). In essence, rather than dealing with the offender after they serve a prison term (with all its dibilitating consequences) they are given their last best opportunity to enter a “pre-entry court” (or a “before entry to prison court”) and avoid a formal prison commitment.
For example, County Jail-Based Reentry Courts offer the possibility of reducing state prison populations with their extraordinary costs,while providing the serious non-violent offender, the seamless monitoring, treatment, and rehabilitative services of a comprehensive drug court. (It can be confusing at first, to realize that there are two kinds of reentry courts, one dealing with prison reentry, the other with those returning from extended jail or other probation-based custodial programs.)
Optimally, Pre-entry Courts (typically county-jail based reentry courts) engage the offender at the time of plea and assessment through sentencing, entry into, and completion from an in-custody rehabilitation program. When released from custodial status into the community, the pre-entry court judge and team continue to monitor the probationer through progress hearings and finally program graduation.
Ultimately, a pre-entry court will be part of a Next Generation Drug Court System, providing comprehensive drug court services to returnees from jail, other county-based custodial programs, probation revocations, prison (and more traditional drug court participants, who typically do not receieve an immediate custodial sentence). The emergence of fledgling pre-entry courts, while focused mostly on those with substance abuse problems, is an important development in criminal justice reform, and arguably the best way to reduce both prison over-crowding and prison reentry failure, whether offenders are drug involved or not. [for a unique example of a pre-entry court, see Dallas SAFPF Reentry Court]