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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 16, 201805:20 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Court-aided intervention available for addicts

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Marchman Act can help people addicted to drugs or alcohol, but challenge in Duval County is a lack of beds for treatment.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Established in 1993, the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act provides for emergency assistance and temporary detention for people who need substance abuse evaluation or treatment.

When judiciously applied, it can help someone overcome addiction and its social side effects through a court-ordered framework that supports recovery.

Duval County Magistrate Dianne Misiak, who conducts Marchman Act hearings each Thursday at the Duval County Courthouse, said the process could be described as “court-aided intervention.”

Similar to the Baker Act that addresses mental health issues, a Marchman Act proceeding begins when someone familiar with the impaired person files a petition in county court for involuntary assessment.

That’s usually a family member or close friend who believes the impaired person has lost the power of self-control and may inflict harm upon themselves or others.

After hearing the relevant testimony, the court may enter an order for involuntary assessment for a period of up to five days.

Following assessment and review, the court may then order involuntary treatment for a period up to 60 days.

That’s where the challenge arises in Duval County.

“Our biggest issue is lack of beds for residential treatment,” Misiak said.

The city of Jacksonville funds 23 beds at Gateway Community Services for court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment, but that’s only about half the number of beds needed, Misiak said.

The other option is a private rehabilitation facility, but that’s rarely an option.

“Most people in Marchman court don’t have insurance,” Misiak said. “That’s the frustrating part. People come to court and ask for help, but there’s no place to put them.”

The sole other resource funded by the city is a program conducted at the jail, but most of the people who appear in Marchman court haven’t been apprehended for a crime, Misiak said.

About three months ago, the nonprofit City Rescue Mission got involved and is offering its LifeBuilders Residential Recovery Program as a resource.

 It’s an individualized rehabilitation program that includes counseling, medical care and workforce development skills training over a period of up to 18 months.

City Rescue Mission Executive Director Penny Kievet said there are about 140 people currently enrolled in the program, including three who were referred by the Marchman court.

“They added it to their menu. Those judges want to see people’s lives change,” she said.

While the partnership is in its early stage, it may prove to be a valuable option.

“So far, we have been able to accommodate everyone the court has sent to us,” Kievet said.

Leslie Scott Jean-Bart

Jean-Bart, Sarnowski join MOSH board

Two lawyers have been elected to the Museum of Science & History board of trustees for terms ending in 2021.

 Leslie Scott Jean-Bart, an attorney at Terrell Hogan, also serves on the boards of Three Rivers Legal Services, Jacksonville/First Coast League of Women Voters, Christ the King Catholic School Board, LSF Health Systems and Northeast Florida Community Action Agency.

She is a past president of the D.W. Perkins Bar Association.

Edward Sarnowski

Edward Sarnowski is the pro bono and community service partner in Holland & Knight’s Jacksonville office.

He coordinates pro bono opportunities for the firm’s attorneys, as well as chairs a committee of attorneys and staff that oversees a pool of funds for distribution 

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