The Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategy is a docket strategy for justice-involved individuals with substance misuse disorders and, in some cases, other co-occurring health conditions. These individuals often do not qualify for traditional drug recovery courts, but would benefit from successful recovery oriented compliance strategies to increase the court’s ability to help bring hope and healing. Approximately 25 percent of people who died from opioid use between 2010-2017 had been incarcerated within a year of their death and over 60 percent of people who died from a drug overdose had a recent interaction with the criminal justice system. While drug recovery courts produce excellent results, the criteria to qualify is often very high because the intense program requires a large amount of resources and commitment from both the individuals and the courts.

Essential Components of the Most Successful Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategies

  1. Accurate assessment and referral to an appropriate level of treatment for an appropriate amount of time
  2. Frequent accountability
  3. Leverage
  4. Relationship

Essential Elements of TN ROCS

  • A trusted person or an organization provides accurate screening, assessments, and referrals to appropriate or best available level of treatment (criminal justice liaison)
  • A trusted person or an organization provides appropriate level of supervision (TDOC, Community Corrections)
  • Judge (Tennessee judiciary)

Criminal Justice Liaison

Performs a “triage” service using a variety of screening tools such as ASI and CAGE. The CJL then engages the client in clinical assessment, relying on techniques of motivational interviewing and the client’s biopsychosocial information to develop a treatment plan

Criminal justice liaison distributes results to:

  • Defense counsel: may obtain the full assessment and recommendations
  • Prosecuting attorney: obtains summary of recommendations
  • Judge: obtains summary of recommendations

Provides a warm/rapid connection to services

Provides continuing support and advocacy

CJL Interview

Community Supervision Officer

  • TN ROCS participant begins by reporting weekly to the community supervision officer to be monitored for compliance with behavioral health treatment plan and attendance of the “Prevention through Education” class offered by the Tennessee Department of Health
  • Scheduled and random drug screening
  • Direct communication with the court when noncompliance occurs
Community Supervisor Officer

Judicial Branch Partners

In addition, it is essential that both prosecutors and defense attorneys understand and are supportive for TN ROCS to be successful. The reporting and consequences elements of TN ROCS assist prosecutors who need to meet the obligations of their office while the support and treatment elements are beneficial to defense attorneys looking to find their clients assessment and treatment.

Of course, judges play a key role in the success of a TN ROCS program. The praise and support of a judge can be particularly motivating to participants during regular check-ins and court sessions. In addition, looming consequences for non-compliance are possibility when needed.

Public Defender Video

TN ROCS Successes

  • Over a three-year period (2014-2017) , at least 34 out of 34 pregnancies were healthy births. Currently, over 90%.
  • Over same three-year period, 30 out of 34 mothers retained custody of their children. Percentage of mothers retaining custody still approximately 90%
  • Recidivism rate, 2014-2017, for any new criminal offense is 32 percent, including people who had as few as one appearance on the ROCS docket
  • Reduction or stable jail population
  • Almost 50% reduction in overdose deaths in Grainger County 2013-2017
  • 33% reduction in criminal charges initiated in Jefferson County 2018-2018
  • 50 percent reduction in burglary rates in Grainger County
  • 950 fewer criminal charges 2019 v. 2018 in Jefferson County
  • 50% reduction in people serving TDOC sentences in Jefferson County Jail
  • Philosophical and cultural shift
  • “Scalability” and implementation: easier and faster than specialty courts
  • Former Governor Bill Haslam included as a key component of “TN Together Plan” to combat the opioid crisis
  • Governor Bill Lee & Legislature continue expansion across Tennessee

TN ROCS Resources

  • Sample Order
  • Sample Judgments
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Plan Recommendations
  • Supervising Officer Compliance Report
  • Checklist for Compliance Appearances

Sample Videos From Court Sessions

TN ROCS Participant Compliance Review: Participant Doing Well. Participant has a history of childhood trauma;
TN ROCS Participant Compliance Review: Participant In Violation of terms and conditions of Probation. Involvement of Defense Counsel;
TN ROCS Participant Compliance Review: Participant Doing Well. Complicated Medical Conditions
Sentencing Process for New TN ROCS Participant. Participant has history of traumatic brain injury.
TN ROCS Participant Compliance Review: Participant In Violation of terms and conditions of Probation. Involvement of Defense Counsel.