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Adult Substance Abuse Court Program

15 W Kellogg Blvd, Suite 900
St. Paul MN  55102

Phone: 651-266-9254
Fax: 651-266-8185

Heidi Heinzel, Program Coordinator

Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court (ASAC) started in October 2002. ASAC is designed to provide individuals the opportunity to improve their lives and break the cycle of substance abuse. The court uses assessment, treatment (chemical and mental health), strict supervision, random drug and breath testing, regular court hearings and immediate sanctions and incentives to help participants maintain a drug free lifestyle. The program represents a closer working relationship between criminal justice partners (judge, prosecutor, defense attorneys, case managers, and treatment providers) than is traditionally seen in criminal courts. ASAC serves approximately 55 participants in any given one day.


Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court’s mission is to enhance public safety by reducing criminal activity and assist substance abusers to become drug/alcohol free, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

  • Reduce criminal recidivism among chemically addicted offenders
  • Increase the number of offenders who remain drug and alcohol free
  • Increase the benefit and reduce the cost to the County for providing services to chemically addicted offenders
  • Create a response to substance abuse issues among all agencies in Ramsey County
  • Adult Ramsey County resident
  • Charged with a non-violent Felony offense
  • Substance abuse/dependency diagnosis and a need for treatment
  • Willingness to participate
Program Requirements

The program is a minimum of 12 months in length and divided into three phases, each minimally four months in length. Movement through phases is based on accomplishment of general phase requirements as well as specific case plan goals. Program components include (but not limited to) chemical dependency assessment, treatment, and aftercare, assessment for participation in other programming (cognitive learning groups, mental health interventions), random alcohol and drug testing, regular court appearances, case management meetings, attendance of community support groups, obtain employment or pursue education, participate in pro-social activities, pay restitution and program fees. A formal graduation ceremony will be held to celebrate completion of the program.

Psychiatric Court Clinic (PCC)

The Psychiatric Court Clinic was developed for persons who suffer from co-occurring disorders (substance abuse and mental health) to bridge the gap between immediate intervention and community resources. The PCC provides screening and assessment, case planning, medication management and referral to community-based mental health agencies. Participants are eligible to receive services regardless of their insurance status. The PCC is staffed by a psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse on a weekly basis. Participants meet with the doctor and nurse during court sessions for case review and medication checks.


Ramsey County Adult Substance Abuse Court has a proven record of success of changing lives, reducing recidivism and lowering incarceration rates. Evaluation and outcome data reveal that ASAC graduates are less likely to commit a new offense, less likely to be convicted of a new offense, and less likely to spend time in jail than those in a comparison group. Mothers have given birth to 28 drug free babies while in the program. Graduates experienced a 44% reduction in their LSI-R scores (Level of Risk and Services) from program entry to exit.


In 2010, the Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court was selected to serve a three-year term by the National Drug Court Institute as one of ten Adult Mentor Courts in the United States. ASAC will serve as a model court program and play a significant role in drug court training, technical assistance and research. Since receiving this award, the Adult Substance Abuse Court has hosted several courts from all across the country.

On June 2, 2012 Judge Joanne Smith was inducted, in the presence of over 4,000 of her peers, into The Stanley M. Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference in Nashville, TN. Judge Smith has distinguished herself over the years through her innovation and leadership. This is the highest achievement given to drug court professionals with only 22 inductees since 2002.

ASAC Prosecutor, Kim Bingham, won the Metro Area Prosecutor Award at the MADD Statewide Recognition Ceremony in March 2012.

In March 2013, the Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court was again selected for a three-year term by the National Drug Court Institute as one of ten Adult Mentor Courts in the United States.

For more information, please contact the program coordinator.

Useful Links

National Drug Court Institute 
Substance Abuse and mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 
MN Dept. of Human Services - Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division 
MN Dept of Public Safety
MN Dept of Corrections
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Informational Materials

Program Brochure 
Program Overview  
Participant Handbook     
2011 Biennial Report  
NADCP MN Facts 2013 

ASAC Team members

The ASAC Team