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FIND OUT: How drug treatment courts are increasing safety and changing lives in our neighborhoods

Posted at 6:31 PM, May 29, 2024
  • Local judges and health officials are talking about the rise in drug use that can lead people to the criminal justice system.
  • Treatment Court is a representation of how the conversation regarding drugs and criminal justice has shifted in our neighborhoods.
  • Watch the video to see how we have proof the treatment court is working.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Local judges and health officials are talking about the rise in drug use that can lead people to the criminal justice system.

They’re trying to increase public health and safety through drug treatment courts.

On its surface treatment courts offer alternatives to incarceration, but for those intricately involved…

"I often call it the court of second chances," Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, the Second Judicial Circuit Felony Treatment Court Judge said.

Ashenafi Richardson is the Second Judicial Circuit Felony Treatment Court judge.

"They devote one year of their life to treatment and in exchange for a successful completion, then they have the felony dismissed and they can have the charge expunged or sealed from their record," Ashenafi Richardson said.

Beside her is Judge Lance Neff who is the juvenile treatment court judge.

"Helping them young has such an impact long term because you're intervening early in their lives," Neff said. "So you're keeping them from going down the wrong path and going to criminal court and felony charges."

Treatment Court is a representation of how the conversation regarding drugs and criminal justice has shifted in our neighborhoods.

"If we were looking at just the opiate epidemic that's happening all throughout the US it does impact our local community as well, too," Jennifer Travieso, the DISC Village Director of Operations said.

Drug use is not just a criminal justice issue it’s a public health crisis.

"Many times by the time an individual intersects with the court system, they've had many years where they are spiraling downward, and they intersect with the criminal justice system," Ashenafi Richardson said. "But sometimes that can be the silver lining for them to get help, perhaps not in the way they wanted."

The treatment court works to meet the risk and need levels of the participants. Staff at DISC Village are the experts who help them get to the root of their drug use.

"What we try to do is build that resiliency and give them that hope," Travieso said. "And so that way they can succeed, even if it's in one moment, in one day, in one month, and then that becomes a year."

We have proof the treatment court is working.

The court tracked 82 program graduates and only 7 had an arrest within one year of graduating. That means 91% that did not re-offend at the one-year mark.

 "Every person we're able to turn and get them to a new path and on the right path," Neff said. "It has multiplying effects on the positive outcomes in our communities."

Thursday at 6 p.m. I have the story of a recent graduate of treatment court. It took her multiple tries to reach the finish line. But she tells me her story is still being written.