Our View: Drug courts could use our support

Appeal Democrat
Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013 1:35 am

She lost her business; she lost her home; she almost lost her children. That’s the part of the presentation where the tears started.

The lunch meeting crowd was listening to a graduate of the Yuba County Drug Court. She’d had a long history of on-again-off-again drug and alcohol abuse. Her children had been caught up in the crossfire, she said, and she’d been to rehab, been to jail. She would go years clean and sober, and then, “life would happen and I wasn’t very good at dealing with it,” she said. “When you get so far in, it is so hard to climb back out.”

That’s how Yuba County Drug Court helped, she said.

They accepted her into the program with which a number of local agencies are involved and which requires constant monitoring and participation in programs from participants. Our speaker had gone two years clean.

“I know I’m still an addict,” she said. “I hope that I’m never an active addict again.”

Recovery is hard; even harder when you lose almost everything.

“We have a place to live and we have clothes and for all that I’m grateful,” she said.

It seems that drug courts work. They’ve been around for a couple decades now and we’ve heard from more than one judge, prosecuting attorney, social worker and probation officer that they very rarely have a recidivist.

The program provides “judicially supervised treatment to nonviolent offenders who have committed addiction-driven crimes,” according to a brochure supplied by Yuba County Friends of Drug Court.

Participants have to agree to submit to: substance abuse and mental health treatment; case management; drug testing; probation supervision; monitoring; and status hearings before a judge with drug court expertise.

They also, after being determined to be suitable subjects for the program, have to enter guilty pleas to their felony charges. Failure to graduate from Drug Court results in their being sentenced for those felony crimes.

Since 1995, more than 200 local participants have benefited in Yuba County, the brochure reports. The costs and resources that are used to help these people climb out of the hole they’ve fallen into are worth it, the experts say. Participants usually turn their lives around, and we’re all way ahead on expenses when you compare that to the cost of them continuing to re-offend, and going in and out of jail and prison — and ruining other people’s lives.

Both Yuba and Sutter provide Drug Courts and services — they need support to help the folks going through the programs on their ways to becoming productive citizens.

The Yuba County Friends brochure suggests donating through the website operated by CA Collaborative Justice Courts Foundation at ccjcfoundation.org. When you get to the home page, cursor over “Donate Here!” in the navigation bar, then click on “Designate your donation.” On that page, scroll down and you’ll find a list of counties, including Yuba and Sutter.

Help if you’re able.

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