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Drug Court team attends national conference in Washington, D.C.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pictured from left: Joann Maxwell, Toni Martin, Lisa Tillman, Annette Dixon, Trocky Ibert, Ruth Bonds, Debbie Spinks, Ben Lockard, Carl Hudson and Judge John Dan Kemp.
Members of the Drug Court team from the 16th Judicial District attended the 17th annual Drug Court Training Conference held in Washington, D.C. on July 17-20, 2011. The conference was sponsored by the national Drug Court Professionals Association and the National Drug Court Institute.

Judge John Dan Kemp, the judge over the Drug Court in the 16th Judicial District, is the team leader of the Drug Court. Also attending were probation officers, drug court counselors and administrative specialists for Drug Court.

Drug Courts were first established in Miami-Dade County, Florida, in 1989 to combat the crisis in a court system overwhelmed with drug related crimes.

Drug Court requires participants who plead guilty to a felony offense to be closely supervised by a probation officer, obtain treatment from a drug counseling professional, report regularly to a judge who receives a status report on the participants progress and be accountable for themselves in order to live a drug-free and sober life.

The success of drug treatment courts has led to over 1,700 courts being established across the United States in the past 20 years. Arkansas now has 41 drug courts, three DWI courts and one veterans court.

Drug courts were established in the 16th Judicial District in Independence County in 2003, Cleburne County in 2005, Stone County in 2007 and in Izard-Fulton Counties in 2010.

Independent research studies of drug courts have concluded that drug courts reduce crime and substance abuse and save money for taxpayers through reduced prison costs, reduced use of social programs by participants and the development of participants into productive, tax-paying citizens.

The savings in medical expenses of a drug afflicted baby can be hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

Drug Courts give participants the opportunity to gain control over their lives from drug addiction, if they work at it and obey the rules.

Violation of the rules can result in swift, certain and immediate sanctions by the judge.

To learn more about drug court, contact any of the drug court offices in the 16th Judicial District.

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