Gritsforbreakfast has a great article on House Bill 1808 which would create more drug courts in Texas.
Being a former prosecutor I can tell you that incarceration alone is not the best tool for probation violators and drug addicts.
When I was a prosecutor in Bowie County Judge Jeff Addison set up a brilliant drug court, a real model for the whole state.
Before drug court here is how the system worked.
John Doe gets a DWI. He goes to probation, fails a drug test, doesn’t do community service, gets behind on his payments, and then quits reporting. Probation officer gets sick of John Doe and decide to file a Motion to Revoke his probation. John Doe gets revoked, get’s an attorney and does from 30-120 days in jail depending on his criminal history. John Doe gets out and is the same drug addicted mess he was when he went to jail.
After Drug Court-
John Doe fails his initial drug screen on probation. He gets sent to “drug court”. Every Friday the judge has a room full of probationers who are required to show up and an explain their actions.
Failing or refusing a drug test always meant a weekend or two in jail. Then you had to go to NA/AA.
Don’t go to NA/AA, then more weekends in jail. There are lots of options for punishment besides weekends in jail, more community service, drug counseling etc.
The brilliance of drug court is, it keeps the defendant on probation and the constant monitoring (and weekends in jail) keeps them motivated. The defendants hate drug court at first. But it saves the county money because there are less people in the jail doing 30-120 days sentences.
In Bowie County we achieved higher probation completion rates and a lower jail population. It also let the judge get involved in the lives of the Defendants to a degree that a typical Motion to Revoke Probation does not allow.
I hope the whole state gets behind this idea.
Here is the Grits Website. I have to learn how to insert links better someday.
Labels: Drug Court, Probation, War On Drugs