York, PA – Nestled in the lush Susquehanna River Valley of South Central Pennsylvania, York County can trace its roots back to the 1740s when it became the state’s 5th county. While agriculture has long been a mainstay for the area, York County has also evolved into a major manufacturing hub, including being home to the main Harley-Davidson factory. With more than 430,000 residents, the county is Pennsylvania’s 8th largest. It is part of the York-Hanover, PA Metropolitan Area, which is the fastest-growing metro area in the Northeast region of the U.S.
York County is also becoming known for leading the nation with an innovative program, called Target 25, to reduce repeat drunk driving. As a judge in York County, the Honorable John S. Kennedy observed that many of the DUI defendants in his court were committing additional drunk-driving offenses between their arrest and when they appeared for trial or to enter a plea. In one case, the defendant committed two additional alcohol-related offenses before his preliminary hearing and an additional DUI before the resolution of his first drunk driving charge.
In speaking with other judges and prosecutors, Judge Kennedy discovered this case was far from an isolated one. Prior to 2012, nearly 25% of cases in the York County courts were for DUI, and 25% of those cases involved repeat offenders. In 2011, 125 people accounted for 600 repeat DUI arrests.
To address the issue of repeat offenders, Judge Kennedy spearheaded a task force that included the District Attorney’s office, probation, local law enforcement agencies, judges, and court personnel. The result was the creation of the York County Court of Common Pleas DUI Court in 2010 and the Target 25 Program in 2012. The DUI Court was started with the help of grant funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and NHTSA.
The county’s DUI Court is focused on reducing recidivism, addressing jail overcrowding, and saving taxpayer dollars through a combination of community supervision and treatment. Within the DUI Court, Target 25 deals with the 25% of the county’s docket that are repeat DUI offenders.
York County has grown into one of the largest county-based CAM programs in the country, with approximately 400 offenders monitored on a daily basis. Target 25 has had a dramatic impact on repeat drunk driving in York County:
The success of Target 25 is getting noticed. Within Pennsylvania, Lancaster and Warren counties have both modeled new pretrial programs on Target 25 using SCRAM CAM. In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is funding an independent study of the program, conducted by the RAND Corporation, to evaluate Target 25’s impact on pretrial recidivism.
In 2014 Judge Kennedy and Target 25 received the Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award from the Governors Highway Safety Association. This national award is given in recognition of notable achievements in the field of highway safety. In 2015 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented Judge Kennedy with its Public Service Award at the 33rd Annual Lifesavers Conference. Target 25 has also received considerable local and national media attention, with editorial boards holding the program up as a successful and innovative strategy for dealing with drunk driving.