This May, drug courts and other treatment courts throughout Tennessee will join over 2,900 such courts nationwide in celebrating National Drug Court Month. By May 31, thousands of individuals who entered the criminal justice system addicted to drugs and facing incarceration will receive life-saving treatment and the chance to repair their lives, reconnect with their families and find long-term recovery. Treatment courts are now considered the foundation of criminal justice reform and the most effective strategy to reduce substance abuse, crime and recidivism while saving money for taxpayers. The time has come to expand these programs so they can reach every seriously addicted individual who comes into contact with the justice system.
This year’s National Drug Court Month theme is “Criminal Justice Reform in Action.” Since the late 1980’s, drug courts have paved the way for significant criminal justice reform in the US. Without the innovative, evidence-based treatment these programs provide, more than 1.4 million Americans would not be living in recovery from addiction. The expansion of the adult drug court model into other types of treatment courts that serve families, juveniles, repeat driving while impaired (DWI) offenders, and veterans is transforming how the justice system responds to addiction and mental health and proving that treatment is far more effective than punishment.
In 2003, the first drug court in Tennessee opened its doors with a simple premise: rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of drug abuse and crime to cycle through the criminal justice system at great expense to the public, use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful. Today, drug courts and other treatment courts have proven that a combination of accountability and compassion can not only save lives, but save valuable resources and reduce exorbitant criminal justice costs.
More research has been published on the effects of drug courts than virtually all other criminal justice programs combined. In 2012, the US Government Accountability Office submitted a report to Congress confirming drug courts reduce substance abuse and crime and save money. Nationally, drug courts return to the community up to $27 for every $1 invested. Drug courts reduce crime by up to 50%, and the longest study to date shows reductions lasted an astounding 14 years. Moreover, studies show that the more serious an individual’s drug addiction and the longer his or her criminal record, the better treatment courts work. This approach not only diverts individuals from a life of substance abuse and crime, but has been proven to reduce use of jail or prison beds, emergency room admissions, family conflicts associated with domestic violence and child abuse, and foster care placements.
Tennessee is now home to courts in 75 counties and in 28 judicial districts and is setting a national standard for smart-on-crime justice policies that reduce recidivism and save money. These programs keep our roads safe from impaired drivers, intervene before youth embark on a debilitating life of substance abuse and crime, give parents the tools they need to stay clean and maintain custody of their children, and ensure our veterans receive the benefits and treatment they have earned.
The DeKalb County Drug Court is committed to assisting with the intervention, treatment and rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders who desire to change their lives and break the cycle of drug dependency. The program consists of a minimum of 52 weeks of treatment, which includes inpatient and outpatient treatment. Treatment is holistic and involves not only alcohol and drug treatment but also other activities, living arrangements, educational/vocational requirements, etc. There are 4 phases of treatment designed to help break the pattern of drug dependency and arrest.
Participants must meet weekly with a Probation Officer, Case manager and have a weekly review before the Drug Court Judge. Participants are randomly drug screened at a minimum of 3 times per week, every week. Drug Court participants attend outpatient treatment weekly at Haven of Hope Counseling, attend local NA/AA meetings and undergo individual counseling also through Haven of Hope.
The Drug Court Team meets weekly and is comprised of Judge “Butch” Cook II, Drug Court Coordinator Norene Puckett, Drug Court Case Managers Rhonda Harpole and Kristy Longmire, Asst. District Attorney Stephanie Johnson, Asst. Public Defender Allison West, Haven of Hope Counseling, DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray, and Probation Officer Holly Baugh to oversee each participant’s treatment. Participants are given sanctions for infractions of program rules, but are also recognized and provided incentives for accomplishments in other areas of their lives that promote drug-free, pro-social, law-abiding, behavior.
DeKalb County Drug Court would like to thank local sponsors who have donated goods or services to the program to offer as incentives to participants: DeKalb Florist, Gentlemen’s Barber-Jackie Cantrell, Creative Styles’ Stylists- Jayrah Cooper, Misty Martin, Rhonda Moore and Emily Webb, Wild Thyme, DeKalb County Complex Gym, McDonalds, & Scentsy Consultant Kim Carr. If your business would like more information on sponsoring the program please contact Norene Puckett at 615-215-8690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 15, 2016 drug court staff along with former graduates, current participants and their families and friends gathered at Greenbrook Park in Smithville for a cook-out and fellowship.