Local Drug Court Graduation/Commencement Ceremony May 15
Celebrates ‘National Drug Court Month’
by Sublette County Treatment Court
May 6, 2009
In celebration of "National Drug Court Month," the Sublette County Treatment Court will hold a graduation ceremony on Friday, 15 May 2009 in the District Courtroom at noon. This is the court’s 3rd ceremony since its reorganization during the summer of 2007. The ceremony marks the completion of an intensive 12 -18 month program of comprehensive drug treatment, close supervision, and full accountability by two members of our community.
"National Drug Court Month" is coordinated on a national level by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), which was established in 1994 to assist the planning, implementation, and operation of Drug Courts. This year marks a historic milestone in the Drug Court movement reflected in May’s National Drug Court Month theme: "Celebrating Twenty Years of Drug Court: Restoring Lives, Reuniting families and Making Communities Safer." What started in a Florida court room twenty years ago has become the nation’s most successful strategy for dealing with substance abusing offenders and has led to today’s uplifting commencement ceremony.
"The jails in this country are full of people with substance abuse problems. These problems – drug and alcohol addictions – have led to the commission of crimes which disrupt our society, to the destruction of families and the ruin of individuals. As a society, we cannot excuse criminal behavior or thinking, but if we do not address the root causes of that behavior the crimes will continue. The Sublette County Treatment Court offers addicted offenders the chance to break the cycle of crime and addiction by addressing both their addiction and their criminal behavior. The work is hard and the responsibility to change rests solely on the shoulders of the individual, but change is possible. Individual lives and entire families can be salvaged. Our community can be a safer, healthier place to live. Without innovative approaches like Treatment Courts, we will simply have to build more jails and prisons," said Sublette County’s Circuit and Treatment Court Judge Curt Haws.
Like many of the 2,301 operational drug courts in the United States the Sublette County Treatment Court hears cases of offenders charged with drug and alcohol 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. And like the other 2,301 operational Drug Courts, this court works better than jail or prison, better than probation, and better than treatment alone.
"I would have never succeeded if it wasn’t for Drug Court. When you have people who care about your success, you tend to want to work a lot harder than for a judge who just sees you as a number," said one recent graduate of Sublette County’s Treatment Court. Another graduate said, "The Treatment Court Program gave me a lot of insight into living sober, introducing me to the community (even though they have lived here for several years) and the benefits for me socially. I just believe it got me on the straight and narrow."
Nationally, more than 70 percent of Drug Court participants have successfully completed the program or remain as active participants, and the cost of Drug Court programs are significantly less than the cost of incarceration in the traditional court system. A recent study by the Department of Justice found a cost/benefit of $3.36 for every $1.00 invested in treating drug-addicted offenders under the watchful eye of Drug Court. "In twenty years Drug Court has been one of the most researched programs in the criminal 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. This May, all across the nation, thousands of people are graduating Drug Court with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to serving their community. This is changing the face of our justice system." Mr. Huddleston acknowledged the progress of the last twenty years but stated that more can be done. "In order to truly end the cycle of substance abuse and crime," he added, "we must put a Drug Court within reach of every American."
About the Sublette County Treatment Court
The Sublette County Treatment Court was founded in 2003 by Judge John Crow and Officer Jeannie Whinnery to address Sublette County’s growing number of substance-abuse related crimes. In cooperation with High-Country Counseling, and with the full support of the Sublette County Commissioners, County Attorney and the Public Defender’s offices they created a program unique to Wyoming, completely funded by the County, while existing within the framework dictated by Wyoming Statutes. As the program has continued to grow, it has continued to reflect the unique population of Sublette County and our distinctive needs. In 2007 the tireless efforts of Judge Haws brought in the services of Curran-Seeley, an organization dedicated to substance abuse treatment and in 2008 the Drug Court’s name was changed to the "Sublette County Treatment Court" in order to more accurately reflect the goals and philosophy of the program.
Today the Sublette County Treatment Court has approximately 12 participants in various stages of treatment and sobriety. These participants are served by professionals from the Court, the Sheriff’s Office, the State’s Probation & Parole office, the County Attorney’s Office, the defense bar, treatment, and many others as each participant’s needs dictate. Additionally the Treatment Court is advised by several members of the community at large, representing both ends of Sublette County.
The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), a not-for-profit organization located in the Nation’s Capital, was founded in 1994 by a group of judicial visionaries to reverse the growing impact of drug-related crime. They created a court model using a combination of accountability and treatment to compel and support drug-using offenders to change their lives. From that vision came the Drug Court movement and the NADCP. In 1997, NADCP and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) then partnered to create the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI), the professional services branch NADCP.
Today, NADCP is the premier national membership, training and advocacy organization for Drug Courts, representing over 22,000 multi-disciplinary Drug Court professionals. NADCP hosts the largest annual training conference on drugs and crime in the nation and annually provides over 80 Drug Court training and technical assistance events, benefiting tens of thousands of drug court professionals. NADCP/NDCI continues to write, publish, and disseminate scholastic and practical publications that are critical to the ongoing growth and fidelity of the Drug Court model and works tirelessly on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures to transform the American justice system through policy, legislation and appropriations. NADCP can be found online at www.NADCP.org.
For more information about Sublette County Treatment Court, contact: Kathy Anderson, Coordinator, phone (307) 367-2300, e-mail: email@example.com