Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jul 2005
Source: Jackson Sun News (TN)
Copyright: 2005 The Jackson Sun
Author: Tonya Smith-king
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


TRENTON - When Judge James Webb returned home in March 2003 from a
national federal drug court training session, he was determined to start one
in Gibson County, with or without funding.

Thus, the Gibson County drug court was born and has been going strong
for about two years now. The County Commission contributed $15,000 to
the program in 2004-2005. Webb has requested about the same for the
next fiscal year.

The program operates with minimal local resources but has several
applications pending for grants.

The drug court had its first graduate, Tim Turner, last fall and has
since had three others to graduate earlier this year. Another five
will graduate in September.

The program now has about 25 participants.

Numerous studies of drug courts in metropolitan areas show a
substantial reduction in repeat offenders by as much as 50 percent or
more, Webb said.

''So, it makes me think that it will work,'' Webb added.

He recently spoke on how Gibson County's drug court is going and his
hopes for the program.

Question: How does drug court work?

Answer: Drug courts are sometimes called therapeutic justice. (With)
traditional justice, the court determines who is guilty and not guilty. For
the ones guilty, you determine, do they need to be incarcerated or is there
something else that they need?

That doesn't work well with people who are addicts. You can put them
in jail - And by the way, I believe that they should go to jail and
that they should pay a debt to society; they did wrong. But when they
get out, they're still an addict.

People can go to treatment, but when they get out of treatment, if
they're not forced to follow an after-care program, their success rate
is not all that high. ... But when you put the two together of justice
and treatment where the person when they leave treatment has a real
incentive, i.e., to avoid jail, to follow through with their
aftercare, it's much more successful.

So, drug court is taking traditional criminal justice and joining that
with treatment.

Q: How is your first graduate doing?

A: He's doing great. Tim is always invited back to our graduations of
the other participants. Tim always speaks, and I kid Tim and say he's
president of the alumni. So, we see him pretty often.

Q: What does graduation mean?

A: It simply means that they have completed the drug court program,
but they are expected to continue their recovery. They're always
addicts. They always have to be working their 12 steps (of the
Alcoholics Anonymous program). So, it's not the end. It's just a
milestone in their sobriety.

Q: Is Gibson County's drug court meeting your expectations?

A: I don't have statistics, and that's something we're going to do in
the next couple of months. ... On the one hand I'm

very pleased because I've seen people who were hopeless meth addicts,
daily cocaine users, whatever. I've seen them complete as much as two
years of sobriety, which they've never been able to do.

On the other hand, every time you lose somebody - of course they chose
to use again - but every time you lose someone, it's kind of a bummer.
Four ladies got put back in jail a couple of weeks ago. Three of them
had used again, and one of them just wasn't complying with the rules
of the drug court. That part's the disappointment.

But in the grand scheme of things, it's a success.

Q: What rules were broken?

A: There are other rules besides staying sober.

Q: What are some of those?

A: Get a job. Come to your meetings. Work the steps. Stay in touch
with your sponsor. Stay in touch with the drug court coordinator.
There's numerous other things. It's a rigorous program. It does not
just include staying sober.

Q: What local resources do you use?

A: Buffalo Valley (in Hohenwald) provides the treatment and they
either take private insurance, TennCare or find some grant. ... But
they've assured me they won't turn anybody down that doesn't have
money. They send a drug court counselor who comes here three to four
days a week to (work with participants). There's still some local
funds that's necessary, and right now we're getting some money from
the county budget.

Q: What could you use additional funds for?

A: Locally, I would like to have money for transportation, for a day
clinic, which is a place for them to go every day that's got
constructive activities. They can have the meetings there. They can
get job training, computer training, things like that, and then more
money for better technology to monitor drug and alcohol use.

The ones who are using are quite innovative in trying to avoid
detection. We've had all the little tricks, and our technology has to
meet their ingenuity.

Q: What are your goals for the program?

A: Goals are that we can get more people out of jail and in treatment
and keep them sober.

Q: Anything else you want people to know about the

A: It's not a slap-on-the-wrist program. Some citizens and law
enforcement in other parts of the country (I haven't had any
complaints) complain that you're coddling criminals or slapping them
on the wrist. This is a tough program. I always give them whatever
jail time they were going to get anyway. So, if I think they deserve
30 days in jail, they still get their 30 days.

But when they get out, they're in a very rigorous program. And we have
some prisoners that find out about it and they say, (no), I'd rather
stay in jail. The reason the program, I think, is good is because it's
tough. Not tough in the sense of being mean but in the sense it's
rigorous and demands the best of them. That's why I think it works.

We've had people who've been given the choice to do a year in jail ...
or go into drug court, and we've had them say they just want to do
their time in jail.

About Webb

# Name: James B. Webb

# Age: 50

# Occupation: Gibson County General Sessions Court judge

# Family: His wife is Denice, and he has a son, Zachary, 18; a daughter,
Shelby, 17, and a son, Patton, 12.

# Favorite book: 'Skipping Christmas,' by John Grisham

# Something people may not know about him: He rides motorcycles and
teaches motorcycle safety.
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