Public is Invited to Drug Court - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/03/06 - Angelina County

Public is Invited to Drug Court

by Ramonica R. Jones

Drug court is an unconventional approach to offenders with substance or drug abuse problems. Offenders in the program are non-violent and are not considered public safety risks. Its nationwide 16-year track record is impressive.

Judge Paul White said, "Seventy-one percent of all participants who enter drug court programs complete the program, but the most important statistic is 72 1/2 percent who complete the program never relapse or re-offend and get into the criminal justice system."

Drug court is an expensive program, but it doesn't cost nearly as much as prison time.

"We spend, in Angelina County, an average of about $3,500 per offender. If I sent those same offenders to the penitentiary, it'd be $16,000 a year, so that's a significant savings."

You might find it surprising to know nearly 15 million Americans use illegal drugs. Three-fourths of all drug users work. More than 60 percent of adults know someone who has reported to work after drinking or doing other drugs. Up to 40 percent of work-related fatalities can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism and alcoholism is to blame for 500 million lost workdays annually.

Judge White would like to see more community support for drug court. The program's immediate needs include funding and a residential treatment facility for young women.

Drug court is an open forum. The public is welcome to attend Monday nights at 7:00 p.m.

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