Mathew Schmonsees works within the Philadelphia Treatment Court at the First Judicial District of PA.

He has worked with the court since 2009. He has a background in working in Behavioral Health.

His work is primarily about improving behavioral health and criminal reform services together. The purpose of drug court is to divert away from traditional mass incarceration. As a whole, the entity does not believe in arresting away the city’s drug problem.

Instead, Schmonsees’ work focuses on getting people with records into treatment. This program is designed for irst-time offenders. Essentially, ten or twenty people enter this program every month and they graduate after a year. The majority of these people who enter this program do graduate. The success rate is 78 percent, according to Schmonsees.

In addition to graduating, if these people do not have another altercation with the law for another year, their felony charge is expunged.

The program takes about 200 people each year. However, as Schmonsees points out, there are roughly 5,000 drug-related arrests every year.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” he said.

He hopes that the proliferation of drug courts continue throughout the country. He understands that recovery is a struggle and likes to give his clients multiple chances to ‘get clean’.

According to Schmonsees, treatment is less expensive than incarceration.