Drug Court honoring graduates

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

EDGARD — The 40th Judicial District Adult Drug Court will hold a graduation ceremony on May 20 at the St. John the Baptist Parish Courthouse. Bertha Williams of St. James Community Fresh Start Program will deliver the keynote address. This is the court’s seventh ceremony since it was founded in 2000.

More than five men and women are expected to be among this year’s graduates. The ceremony marks their completion of an intensive program of comprehensive drug treatment, close supervision and full accountability.

“National Drug Court Month” is coordinated on a national level by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which was established in 1994 to assist the planning, implementation and operation of drug courts. This year, drug courts throughout the nation are celebrating National Drug Court Month with the theme: “All Rise: Putting a Drug Court Within Reach of Every Person in Need.”

Like the other 2,400 operational drug courts in the United States, the 40th Judicial District Adult Drug Court hears cases of offenders charged with drug-related crimes. Drug courts relieve already overwhelmed court dockets, placing offenders in an environment where they undergo treatment and counseling, submit to frequent and random drug testing, make regular appearances before the judge and are monitored closely for program compliance.

Graduated sanctions, including jail time, are imposed for noncompliance. Conversely, incentives are applied for continual compliance.

Research continues to show that drug courts work better than jail or prison, better than probation and better than treatment alone.

Nationally, 75 percent of drug court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs, according to the association. Also, drug courts provide vast savings to the criminal justice system.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found a cost/benefit of $3.36 for every $1 invested in treating drug-addicted offenders under the watchful eye of drug court. At a time when budgets are increasingly strapped, drug

courts represent a program with proven results.

“Drug courts are one of the most researched criminal justice programs in our justice system,” said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. “The scientific community has put drug court under the microscope and concluded that they work. In fact, drug courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy.”