ChesterNewMatter4thQtr2021 - 20

CCBA Feature
The State Drug
Treatment Program:
An Overview & How It Can
Affect Your Client's Sentence
By Kelly A. Jurs, Esquire
Gawthrop Greenwood, PC
tate Intermediate Punishment, particularly in
Chester County, has traditionally been a sentencing
alternative rarely taken advantage of because it
required the approval of the District Attorney's Office.
That has changed with the passing of Act 115 of 2019,
which went into effect on February 17, 2020, and
amended certain portions of titles 42 and 61, affecting
what was previously known as State Intermediate
Punishment (SIP). SIP has been eliminated and replaced
with the State Drug Treatment Program (SDTP). While
a number of features of the SDTP remain the same as
the prior SIP program, this article will highlight the
differences that are important when considering how to
advise your client.
In the past, defense counsel would propose that
a client be assessed for SIP as a component of plea
negotiations. In order for an assessment to occur, the
District Attorney's Office would have to agree to an
open guilty plea, with the client to be assessed by the
State for the program. With these new changes, SDTP is
20 | New Matter
administered by the Department of Corrections and an
eligible candidate is anyone the court has not deemed to
be ineligible. The client must also be sentenced to a term
of confinement of at least two years, or confinement, the
minimum of which is not more than five years where the
person is within two years of completing the minimum
term. This takes the eligibility process out of the hands of
counsel and places it squarely with the court and with the
Department of Corrections.
Any client whose sentence meets the requirements
set forth above will automatically be assessed for SDTP
by the Department of Corrections. The trigger for
assessment will be the imposition of sentence by the trial
court, assuming the sentence meets the parameters set
forth in the statute.
The guidelines for the SDTP are set forth in 61 Pa. C.S.
§4105. Similar to SIP, a client must forfeit any credit they
might otherwise be entitled to under 42 Pa. C.S. §9760,
and complete the entirety of the 24-month program. If
the client is unable to complete the program within 24
months, but is otherwise compliant, the program may
be extended up to 30 months. Also similar to SIP, the
program begins with a period of total confinement of at
least seven months and then is gradually stepped down
into less-restrictive therapeutic communities and finally
to a group home or approved transitional residence.


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