Weeks after Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) members approved a plan that calls for major changes in the local court system, a work group will be meeting to lay the groundwork for the first of several anticipated phases. Overarching goal of CJAB is to reduce the number of individuals coming into repeated contact with the legal system through an intensive program addressing addiction issues. Initially, the “specialty courts” will address crimes involving alcoholism — DUI, in particular — but its mission may become much broader. Future phases could bring other criminal defendants diagnosed as addicts to the specialty court system. New criminal procedures could also be put in place for those with diagnosed mental health issues and military veterans who face unique circumstances as a result of trauma they’ve faced during times of service.
Those who are diverted from the traditional criminal court — and potential prison terms and other penalties — would be chosen carefully and be closely supervised. If they failed to comply with treatment plans and other requirements ordered by the court, they would be returned to the traditional criminal justice system.
President Judge Stephen Minor is spearheading the specialty court system, in consultation with the CJAB. A work group has been appointed and includes Judge Minor, Senior Judge John Leete, District Attorney Andy Watson, Public Defender Brent Petrosky, Chief Probation Officer John Moshier, Potter County Drug & Alcohol Treatment Services Director Colleen Wilber, Commissioner Paul Heimel, State Police Trooper Michael Delp, Sheriff/Jail Warden Ken Sauley and counselor Arnie Haskins. Models of other DUI courts in Pennsylvania are currently being studied by work group members, who will convene on Nov. 5 to begin piecing together a blueprint for the local court.
Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.