In 2021, the Catawba Nation will open its first judicial program—a Healing to Wellness Court. The flagship program will provide services to participants, while addressing drug abuse and crime affecting citizens. The Nation is excited to implement this court as its first step in establishing a justice department. The court will assist citizens of the Nation struggling with drug and alcohol use, who have been charged with a crime related to that substance use. Much like local drug courts, participants will be court supervised as they engage in treatment and rehabilitation. Participants receive incentives for good behavior, and sanctions for poor behavior (including possible jail time or dismissal from the program). However, healing to wellness courts differ from traditional drug courts in one key way—They are designed to work specifically with Tribal communities. Where traditional drug courts focus solely on the participant, healing to wellness courts focus on individual and community healing through cultural practices. Individuals who are accepted into the program will receive treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, get help with job skills, and learn traditional art forms, like pottery. Any citizen can be accepted into the program, so long as they are not charged with certain offenses (such as violent crimes or drug trafficking).
For questions about the Healing to Wellness Court, please contact Meredith Hungate, Director of Justice Services at (803) 984-0393. For referrals, please contact Dionna Cyprian at (803) 366-4792.