Author Topic: Prosecutor's Office Press Release 03-09-18-Alternative Treatment Court Report  (Read 1310 times)

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Offline kevinhillman

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Pulaski County Alternative Treatment Court Report
By Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman

            My office often releases reports on those who have been charged with crimes, as well as those defendants who receive a sentence to the Department of Corrections.  I often read comments questioning why defendants with convictions involving drug offenses receive sentences to the Department of Corrections and not treatment.  The answer is usually incarceration is not taken without exhausting numerous other options, including probation, treatment, and possibly Alternative Treatment Court.
            While we often focus on the folks who fail and ultimately end up with a prison sentence, there is a brighter side to the story.  Just this month, six defendants who were all addicted to heroin, methamphetamine, or other drugs graduated from the Drug Court Program.  Since 2010, Pulaski County has had a successful Drug Court that serves as a valuable alternative to incarceration and offers those with a serious addition problem hope.  In 2012, the Court was expanded to be called Alternative Treatment Court when a Veterans Treatment Court was added.
            Before we look at the statistics, who do these programs serve?  In order to be eligible for Drug Court, a person must be facing felony charges or be on probation for a felony offense and have a drug addiction problem.  Many times, the defendants who enter drug court have failed on a lesser form of probation and Drug Court is a last community treatment option before they go to the Department of Corrections.  Veterans Treatment Court is open to any veteran with an Honorable or General Discharge and is facing either a felony or misdemeanor offense and would benefit from treatment offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Many of these veterans suffer from some form of addiction, either drug or alcohol, or suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder and these conditions were a factor in their criminal conduct.
            Both programs offer an intensive probation, enhanced supervision, and at the beginning of the program, weekly court appearances.  The participants are subject to curfew checks, searches at any time, and random drug testing multiple times per week.  The participants also receive intensive treatment tailored to their situation either through a Treatment Court provider or the Veterans Administration provider.  The bottom line is the programs are not easy to complete, but if completed, the participant has earned their graduation through good behavior and staying drug and alcohol free.
            Since 2010, there has been 33 defendants who graduated from the Drug Court program.  These 33 participants, who successfully completed the program, earned 17,312 clean days while in the program, or days without use of drugs or alcohol.  In addition to getting these defendants off drugs, which is the underlying cause of many crimes, it also saves taxpayers significant money. The average cost of incarceration in Missouri is $22,187 per inmate.  If those 33 graduates had been sentenced to the minimum sentence of two years in the Department of Corrections instead of completing Drug Court, it would have cost the taxpayers of Missouri $1,464,342 in cost.  In comparison, Drug Curt costs approximately $7000 per year per participant.  Thus, the resulting savings is over $1 million dollars for these 33 defendants.
            21 defendants have graduated from the Veterans Treatment Court since 2012.  There are currently 8 participants in the Veterans Court program. Using average incarceration costs and minimum sentences, using Veterans Treatment Court versus incarceration results in a cost savings to the taxpayer of nearly half a million dollars.
            For these reasons, I, along with my office, fully support and participate in the Alternative Treatment Court.  These programs help people with addiction, prevent future crimes, save taxpayer money, and offer a valid alternative to incarceration.  If you know someone who is currently involved in the criminal justice system in Pulaski County and would benefit from Alternative Treatment Court, please contact my office at 573-774-4770.
            The Pulaski County Alternative Treatment Court was founded by and continues to be presided over by Judge Colin Long.  In addition to Judge Long, the other members of the Alternative Treatment Court team are Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley, Trackers Kandi Greer and Travis Shaffer, Court Administrator Rhonda Ledbetter, Treatment Provider Fred Utley, State Probation Officer Mechelle Rendell, OCCS Probation Officer Rachel Taylor, VA Representative Danielle Easter, and Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman.
Please direct all questions to Kevin Hillman, Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney.
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