Dallas SAFPF Court: Where Reentry Court is Also Pre-Entry Court






Graduates of the Dallas SAFPC Program, (which can also be described as a “Front End Reentry Court”), with Judge Robert Francis.


THE BEST OF: The following article, published on Dec.13,2009, describes the success of the Dallas SAFPC  program  placing drug offenders, a probation program located on a prison site, that returns the offender to the community after relatively short period in custody.

The Dallas Reentry Court is a excellent example of the extraordinary innovation (and sometimes bewildering variation) among pre-entry courts, that divert offenders from a prison sentence to a probation based custodial program. What makes the Dallas SAFPF Program unique, is that its custodial segment is actually situated on prison grounds, yet program participants are segregated from the prison population, and never leave the jurisdiction of the County SAPFP Court Program.

The Texas legislature’s “4C program” provides  in-custody facilities within the prison’s outer perimeter , and uses specially trained, but regular prison guards. Although there are approximately ten jurisdictions that take advantage of “4c” facilites, Dallas is by far the largest, and the only one that has a court and judge dedicated to the reentry mission. Seventeen Dallas judges sentence drug offenders to the  SAFPF program, but when offenders finsh their in-custody treatment (typically 6 to 9 months),  they enter a dedicated Reentry Court for monitoring, continued treatment and rehabilitative services.

Judge Robert Francis, a retired judge, works full time as the reentry court judge. He and his staff take regualr trips to the “4C” facilities to check up on Dallas based offenders. Plans are in the works to reward those who do well well in the in-custody program.  Though the progam is less than a year old, 275  participants have completed the in-custody “4C” treatment program, and been released into the care and custody of Judge Francis and the Dallas SAFPF Reeentry Court,  where revocations are at an extraordinarily low 5%.

Contact: [email protected]

Now Available: Data on Court/Prisoner Jurisdiction

June 4, 2012

Click on the image below for a copy of the COURT-PRISONER JURISDICTION CHART 

Having just led a 3 hour training on the efficacy of Front-End or Early Intervention Reentry at the NADCP Conference in Nashville, I had the opportunity to address a meeting of State Drug Court Coordinators. Even though exhausted from the training, I  jumped at the chance to speak to policy makers and representatives of policy makers in their states. I described the potential of the Early Intervention Reentry Courts and the fact that I was happy to share my ongoing  research on where court-prisoner jurisdiction existed in states across the nation. [Clicking on the image on the left, will take you to the data on those connections].

I noted that since January, I’d contacted representatives from over forty-five states (many of them, the state coordinators themselves) to determine where court jurisdiction existed that might impact  persons in prison or those leaving prison. After looking at the data, a pattern emerged. There were relatively few states that gave their courts jurisdicition to supervise offenders after a completed prison sentence. But over 90% of states appeared to give their judges authority to recall an offender within a limited statutory period immediately after sentencing. Some individual judges or courts were doing this on a case by case basis, while others were using short term prison sentences systemically, as state policy to reduce prison terms for non-violent offenders (and prison populations). Texas, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri are just four examples of states that are using their front end jurisdiction to recall offenders from prison (most often, within 3 to 12 months of sentencing) and return them to their communites for continued court supervision, as well as rehabilitation services. (see: Early intervention Reentry Makes its case at Conference)

As I finished my comments, i concluded by saying that It was my hope that policy makers and their representatives will take the opportunity to review the court jurisdiction chart above (though it is a work in progress) to learn what jurisdictional opportunities some state courts have used to reduce prison terms.

What I forgot to ask of the State Court Coordinators, I as of them and all of you now. If you have relevant information on your state’s court-prisoner jurisdiction (whether you are a policy maker or otherwise), please contact me with that information. Review the State/Prisoner Jurisdictional Chart above for errors or omissions, so that we can fill in gaps, and correct mistakes in the data provided.   We all need to better understand existing court-prisoner jurisdiction among the states, if we are to reduce prison terms for non-violent offenders’ and reduce prison over-population.

Early Intervention Reentry makes its case at Conference

June 4, 2012

The Reentry Court field was well represented at the NADCP Conference with six workshop tracks and two 3 hour traing sessions on Front-End Reentry Courts and Federal Reentry Courts. Both 3 hour trainings and the track work shop on Front End or Early Intervention Reentry Courts were especially well attended and the audience was fully engaged by panelists from Dallas, Texan and Akron, Ohio. Both jurisdictions have reentry courts that are well established.(see photo to the left; Judge Bobby Francis and graduates of the Dallas Reentry Court program).

Though those courts were clearly successful Front End Reentry Court models, there were significant distinctions between them. Judge Francis’ Dallas program, determined eligibility at the time of sentence, with participants placed on probation and in a treatment program on prison grounds , but separate from prisoners. Judge Elinore Marsh-Stormer’s Akron program, relied on prisoners to initiate their program entry with a letter of request to the judge, and a court review process to determine their appropriateness, before they were released into the control of probation and the court. What both courts shared was an obvious dedication and enthusiasm for their work, and their ability to use their limited  jurisdiction to remove offenders from prison after only a fraction of their prison term, to be returned to the reentry court for further supervision, treatment, and rehabilitation services in their communities (see: Front Loaded Court Based Interventions),

Front End Reentry Court Training; at NADCP Conference

May 5, 2012

A spcial training session focusing on the effectiveness of Front End/Preentry/Early Intervention Reentry Courts will be held on May 30th from9:00AM to Noon at the NADCP Conferendce in Nashville, Tennessee (SB-1; Bayou C)

[for conference registration information; May 30 – June 1: click here]

If you are interested in how Front End Reentry Courts could work in your jurisdicition and state, this is your opportunity. The training will be led by Judge Jeff Tauber (ret.), NADCP President Emeritus and Judicial Fellow in Reentry Courts and Evidence Based Sentencing. Practitioners from both the Dallas and Akron Reentry Courts, as well as national experts, will provide insights and practical information as to how Front End Reentry Court work in your jurisdiction and across your state. (At left, see Dallas Judge Bobby Francis and his SAFPF Court graduates)

Find the description for the training in the Conference agenda below:


The states are looking for ways to reduce long term prison sentences. A number of state courts have developed effective “reentry courts” based on limited state jurisdiction that exists at the front end of a prison term. Called  Front End, Preentry, or Early Intervention Reentry Courts (depending on your locality), they capitalize on the courts ability to recall prisoners for resentencing within the first several months of a prison sentence (typically less than six months). These programs provide a seamless transition between in-custody treatment, court supervision, and community rehabilitation.

Learning Objectives:

a. Learn how Front End Reentry Courts have used existing jurisdiction and authority to create comprehensive reentry courts that combine the control of a prison sentence with the promise of court supervision and community reintegration.

b.  Learn how prison and community- based supervision and rehabilitation are coordinated in a seamless fashion that successfully reintegrates offenders into the community at a fraction of the cost of long term prison sentences.

You will receive first hand information on:

1.   Jurisdictional issues in starting front–end programs; program development both in and out of prison, levels of contact between court and prisoners, and sentencing structure.

2.    What happens in prison ( jail or a community corrections facility); what do the participants get out of brief custodial term, is there treatment, rehabilitation, and/or educational services while in custody, is there judicial oversight and/or incentives?

3.    What triggers a recall to the court for resentencing, what level of compliance is required for the prisoner to be allowed back into the court and community. What does the post prison court program look like and who has jurisdiction. What success have Front End Programs had?

[Note a separate single workshop on Front-End Reentry Courts will be held on Thursday, May 31st, from 10:30 to 11:45 at the NADCP Conferernce. It will be Workshop A13: Governor’s Ballroom D, the first workshop of the conference]




Pre-entry Courts in the Age of Reentry

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]

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