County Continues To Investigate ‘Specialty Courts’

From Potter County Today

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 fails 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.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.


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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    This would be the reason for the Galeton Woman who was charged with felonys of the sale of narcodic’s, which where not even hers being set free on a 1000.00 bail. But then she trys to over dose while the state police were following her to the property to let her have 10 mins, to gather her belongings. Where is the DUI chgarge for driving with taking vicadines. It is to much money to send her to jail. Now we have to pay a hospital bill, rehab. bill, and of course the ambulence ride there. Wow, it was worth it. Oh did I mention that she did not break her bail terms by trying to o.d either. DA you better look at this hard, I will not rest until this system is changed. Her health was not that bad, that a little jail time would hurt her. I would think she is going there anyway, but in Potter County anything can happen. Oh by the way did I mention it was 30 vics that she ate while they were following her.

    Editor’s Response:
    I approved this comment, as it does not directly identify the person you are speaking in reference to. However, it was quite obvious who you were referring to in your former comment, and so I am unable to approve of that one without a signature.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So if what this says is true, wouldn’t you rather she got help and wasn’t back out selling dope?

    The real problem with this is that most people will just exploit the system and use drug abuse and mental health problems as an excuse to lighten their sentences, thereby increasing the number of reported ‘drug addicts’ we have in our communities.

    More reason to funnel more tax dollars to big pharma for some ‘legal dope’..

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