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Elizabethton, Tennessee

First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court


The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court comprises Carter, Washington, Unicoi, and Johnson Counties in Tennessee. It is a voluntary, treatment-based program for adults with nonviolent felony charges and a diagnosed substance use disorder. The program is an alternative sentencing approach to help respond to the persistent problems of prison and jail overcrowding by giving participants the opportunity to receive inclusive, gender-responsive, culturally responsive treatment and services. The program works to preserve resources, assist participants in their recovery and readjustment to the community, foster individual responsibility, and promote public safety by reducing recidivism and incarceration.

Admission and Target Population

The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court serves adults at high risk for recidivism and who are in high need of treatment and other services. Individuals are clinically assessed for recidivism potential, substance use disorder, mental health disorders, environmental concerns, and familial relationships for acceptance into the program. Referrals can be made by the public defender, district attorney, probation departments, law enforcement, or judge, as well as by the individual or a family member.

After an application is submitted and a background check conducted to ensure the individual does not have disqualifying violent offenses, the assessment process begins. The coordinator conducts a full clinical assessment on the individual, which includes a substance use evaluation, criminal history screen, Modified Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and mental health referrals as needed.  Summaries of the assessments, along with recommendations for treatment, are reported to the recovery court team. Recommendations may include placement in a detoxification facility, residential facility placement, a stay at a halfway house, or enrollment in supplementary counseling.

Program Structure

The First Judicial District Felony Recovery Court is an 18-to-24-month program comprising five phases that include frequent drug screening, treatment, intense supervision, and regular court appearances.

The treatment specialist performs ongoing American Society Addiction Medicine (ASAM) levels of care evaluations throughout the program to monitor and adjust programming for each participant.

Quick Facts

Established: 2017
Location: Elizabethton, Tennessee
Court type: Rural
Primary track: Adult drug court

Other Strengths

- Gender- and culturally responsive services
- Assessment- and recovery capital-driven
- Collaborative mental health partnership
- Rural network of services