QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT DRUG COURT PROGRAMS
What is a Drug Treatment Court?
The 26th JDC operates a distinct court established to intervene with non-violent offenders whose crimes were committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and offenses relating to alcohol/other drugs such as possession. The offender must plead guilty before the regular court before receiving the opportunity to transfer to the Adult Drug Treatment Court. The offender is then enrolled in a long-term treatment program to help him/her live drug free.
The Adult Drug Treatment Court consists of:
- District Attorney
- Treatment professionals
- Probation officer
What is the premise for Drug Treatment Courts?
The premise is the same for any court – reduction of criminal activity and prevention of criminal activity. Up to 90% of reported crime is directly or indirectly related to alcohol/other drug abuse. For instance, law enforcement officers frequently respond to domestic calls and find one or both parties under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Chronic substance abusers and chemically dependent people commit a high proportion of crime. Their criminal behavior is driven by a compulsion to continue using drugs. When such people are treated successfully, they cease committing offenses against the public.
Recycling addicts from jail-to-prison-to-the-streets-to-jail is neither efficient nor effective in combating crime. An active drug court, combined with a sound treatment provider, can interrupt the drug using pattern of offenders and lead them to drug-free lives. Everyone benefits from this.
Are there Juvenile and Adult Drug Treatment Courts?
Yes. They are separate courts although they are both concerned with alcohol/drug abuse and addiction issues. There is a separate court for juvenile offenders in Bossier and Webster Parishes. The juvenile probation officers receive special training in working with youth who have a history of alcohol/drug abuse. The treatment provider is licensed to treat substance abuse problems. An array of counseling and related services may be made available to the family as well. In some cases, such services are ordered.
The Adult Drug Treatment Court operates in Bossier Parish.
Treatment issues and methods for adults differ from those for adolescents. The adult drug court has its own adult probation officer and treatment provider.
Shouldn’t these people be in jail, not in treatment?
If they are violent offenders, they will be in jail and imprisoned if convicted. Drug Treatment Courts are for non-violent – usually first time – offenders. The effect of these special courts is to interrupt a potential sequence of criminal activity. The compulsive nature of drug addiction results in repeated illegal acts.
The treatment provided is a continuum of interventions for 12 to 18 months. During that time the participant may receive in-patient treatment, outpatient day treatment, half-way house treatment, and so on. The participant moves through the continuum according to his/her level of positive response. The Court provides sanctions when necessary, such as the use of monitoring bracelets. The Court also provides incentives when progress is made.
There is a cost benefit for the public. Incarceration is expensive and should be utilized for those criminals who are a threat to the community. Treatment for the chemically dependent is cost effective and has the same outcome – an interruption in criminal behavior. Everyone wins.
Do you want to know more about substance abuse treatment and prevention?
George Sewell, MA, BCPS
Louisiana Office for Addictive Disorders, Region VII
Phone: (318) 632-2040
FAX: (318) 632-2073
Suzanne H. Stinson
26th Judicial District Court
Phone: (318) 965-2217
FAX: (318) 965-3765
Drug Court Coordinator
26th Judicial District Court
Phone: (318) 746-3353
FAX: (318) 741-0989
J. Schuyler Marvin, District Attorney
P.O. Box 69
Benton, LA 71006
Phone: (318) 965-2332
FAX: (318) 965-2233