Pubdate: Fri, 04 Oct 2002
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The Gazette Newspapers
Author: Robert Rice
Note: The writer is a probation supervisor.
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


Over and over, I read about complaints, disagreements and gridlock because 
of differing perspectives. I am writing to share and acknowledge something 
good that is occurring in our (Schenectady) neighborhood.

This new, innovative, right-out-of-the box phenomenon is known as "drug 
court." It is a voluntary program offering certified drug treatment to 
individuals plagued with years of drug and/or alcohol addictions.

Instead of wasting valuable public resources on warehousing people to no 
purpose, individuals are allowed to actively participate in a variety of 
treatment levels addressing the very issues resulting in their addictions 
and subsequent incarceration.

Upon entering the drug court program, the judge informs the new arrivals to 
show up, try hard and be honest. Each week they must show up in the court 
at 9 a.m. sharp and explain their weekly progress. All information is 
shared with the drug court team, and together positive or negative 
sanctions are meted out. I have been privileged to observe this process 
firsthand and have been astounded at the results.

Although there may be some initial disagreement, eventually wisdom and 
fairness prevail and a decision is reached that is shared by the majority. 
This team approach resembles the democratic process in an optimum application.

Some relapses are tolerated under certain conditions, but they are not 
without consequences. In my 28 years of working directly in the criminal 
justice system of this community, this approach of expecting clients to be 
responsible for themselves and their behaviors has brought significant 
results. At first I was a skeptic, but now I am 100 percent sold on drug court.

Let me personally thank both Schenectady County Court Judge Michael C. 
Eidens and Schenectady City Court Judge Karen A. Drago for their effort, 
vision and tenacity to make this a reality for our county. Further, let's 
not forget the other members of the team consisting of a treatment 
coordinator, the district attorney's office, the public defender and probation.

May this metamorphosis of the criminal justice system continue for years to 

Robert Rice

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