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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Potter County Looking For Alternatives To Locking Everyone Up

County Continues To Investigate ‘Specialty Courts’

crimjusticePotter County officials continue to investigate two alternatives – drug courts and mental health courts – as possible options to improve the criminal justice system while easing overcrowding at the county jail and reducing costs. As complex as each option is, officials caution, it will be some time before any changes are recommended. District Attorney Andy Watson is heading up a committee that is looking into some of the options. Other members of the county’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board are also involved.

Because a large proportion of criminal defendants coming before the court are suffering from mental health issues, substance abuse histories, or both, there’s a growing awareness that punishment that failure to address those factors frequently results in costly recidivism.

Drug Courts handle the cases of nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders. The judiciary, prosecution, defense, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service and treatment communities work together. The model combines intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, escalating sanctions and treatment to help substance-abusing offenders break the cycle of addiction and the crime that accompanies it. There are more than 2,400 drug courts established in all 50 states. The average recidivism rate for those who complete drug court is about 20 percent, in contrast to 48 percent for those who do not.

Mental Health Courts link non-violent offenders who would ordinarily be prison-bound to long-term, community-based treatment. They rely on mental health assessments, individualized treatment plans, and ongoing judicial monitoring to address the underlying problems that contribute to criminal behavior. For those who adhere to their treatment plan for the agreed-upon time, usually between six months and two years, their cases are either dismissed or the sentence is greatly reduced. If the defendant does not comply, the case returns to the original criminal calendar.


Anonymous said...

Make them be the law abiding citizen's butlers and gardners

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the rate is after the 2 years, and does the higher rate for the jailed people begin before 2 years and alter the percentage? Seems like a lot of bureaucracy involved for individuals who chose to break the law and show no self restraint. Why not give the mentally ill the counseling they require and decriminalize some of the drugs so we're not wasting our time and money making criminals out of many of the drug offenders? Unless we just want more public sector jobs.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I did not know Andy Watson when he was running for DA but I have heard very good things about his dedication to the job and his performance. It does not surprise me that he would be taking the lead with something like this. So many prosecutors are only concerned with punishment and Andy is different than that. He can be tough and has shown it but he also understands that someone who runs afoul of the law is not necessarily a lost cause. Thank you, Andy, for your dedication.

Anonymous said...

To post 8:46 PM, let me remind you this is the same Andy Watson who during the debate will be saying how all criminals belong in jail. It is also the same Andy Watson after losing the previous election with Jeff Leber would not practice criminal law in his civil practice because they are all guilty.

Anonymous said...

Finally someone with new ideas and approach. Putting mentally ill and drug users in prison/jail, doesn't fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

well post 8:58, Andy Watson is right, all crooks do belong in jail......where would you put them ?

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:58 I don't give a s--- about your sour grapes bullcrap. I am talking about today and tomorrow so you can get back in your time machine and go back and wallow in the past and eat all of your sour grapes while the rest of us move on and try to make things better. The past is past and then there is the here and now. It's a gift. That's why we call it the "present." So it's all about what we do with it.

Timothy C. Cole said...

Yes yes yes Good job Andy Watson!! I think Susan keffover and the other County Commisoners as well as member of the mental health community and probation also desirve praise!!! Its time to decrease the number of Non Vilent people Sitting in the county Jail. When one seventh of the county budget goes to the jail its time for law enforcement and the judical system to take a look how things are being done!!!! GREAT JOB ON THE CRIMANAL SYSTEM ADVISORY BOARD. It is so refreashing to see local officals comming up with freash thoughtful ideas.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tim. This is a good step and I do not care about the good old days, Jeff Lieber and all that jazz.