Matt Schmonsees, the court coordinator for the Philadelphia Treatment Court (PTC), visited Solutions Journalism: Covering Addiction today to speak about sentencing alternatives for drug and alcohol offenders who struggle with substance use. Schmonsees, who is also a member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and the Pennsylvania Association of Drug Court Professionals (PADCP), worked in behavioral health as a clinical supervisor and therapist prior to his position with PTC.
Matt Schmonsees: just ‘scratching the surface’
by Grace Shallow
Matt Schmonsees, the coordinator of the Philadelphia Treatment Court and the Philadelphia DUI Treatment Court, acknowledged that there are people the treatment courts are not reaching when he visited class on Tuesday. The treatment court alone admits 200 individuals into the year-long program annually, while there about 450 offenses in the city committed by eligible individuals every month. But the impact is clear: since the courts’ formations, there has been a 9 percent recidivism rate for all graduates. The problem doesn’t originate from the courts’ employees or a lack of individuals to target. It’s resource-driven — a recurring theme in these discussions.
Schmonsees’s talk was informational, and I appreciated his transparency throughout the entire process — but it still left me with a lot of questions. Philadelphia Treatment Court looks to enroll first-time offenders in their program that were convicted with the possession of drugs with the intention to distribute. The pool of individuals is also filtered by a quantity ceiling, meaning if the offender is carrying more than a certain quantity of a drug, they will not be accepted into the court. It’s indisputable that Schmonsees’s program is having an impact, but what’s the solution for offenders who fall out of this line and is there a city that’s doing a more comprehensive job?