Loudoun County Virginia Drug Court nixed funding for the program because supervisors opposing the funding said they were concerned the program was not cost effective, serving a maximum of 20 participants at a time and reporting a graduation rate of 24 percent. Close to the nations Capital we are seeing evidence of the high failure rate of Drug Court. As the judge said, it is like boot camp, so many participants fail. Why have a program so strict and hard to comply with that so many people fail in Drug Court? Your average person would have a hard time completing Drug Court, yet they expect people without a drivers licence, a drug addiction and possibly mental health issues, to complete extremely hard requirements. Many pro Drug Court advocates are out there pushing hard for funding to increase Drug Courts and the cousins to them like Veterans Court and Family Court. They give out skewed statistics on their success rate.
Drug Courts also need to stop the forcing of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on them which is unconstitutional, yet judges are doing it anyway.
Budget Update: Drug Court Funding Nixed
Posted on March 9, 2012
by Norman Styer
The Loudoun Board of Supervisors continued its budget mark up Thursday night, with straw votes to restore $756,563 to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet’s recommended FY13 plan. Supervisors last week voted to begin their budget work at a spending level that would result in a 5 percent real estate tax bill decrease for the average homeowner, about $50 million below Hemstreet’s recommendation. That action put in play a list of cuts proposed by Hemstreet that would have to be made unless a majority of supervisors voted to reinstate the funds.
It appears that among the first casualties of that approach is the Loudoun County Drug Court. County Chairman Scott K. York’s (R-At Large) motion to restore $284,408 to continue the 9-year-old program next year failed. Supervisors opposing the funding said they were concerned the program was not cost effective, serving a maximum of 20 participants at a time and reporting a graduation rate of 24 percent.
The program allows select serious drug offenders to enter an intensive rehabilitation program, supervised by Loudoun County Circuit Court judges, as an alternative to trial. Participants are subject to frequent drug testing and are required to have jobs, manage their finances and appear in court weekly over a period of at least one year. Judge Burke F. McCahill described the program as the most intensive form of supervision in the state’s criminal justice system.
Judge Thomas D. Horne, now the most senior Circuit Court judge in Virginia, compared the program with his toughest life experience: U.S. Marine Corps boot camp. “We are not easy. We do not mollycoddle,” Horne said, explaining why so few participants successfully complete the program. However, even those who don’t complete the program often experience important life-changing impacts and stay out of trouble, he said. Both judges noted that the program was geared to address serious repeat offenders likely to make frequent appearance in the jail and in the courthouse. “We are not rehabilitating people, we are habilitating them,” McCahill said.
Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said the low graduation rate indicated the program was not successful. Supervisor Shaun Williams (R-Broad Run) said it wasn’t a core government service that justified funding. He suggested private support groups—not the court system—should help these type of addicts. “If they want to get sober and have the support structure to do it, they will do it,” Williams said.Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), a longtime Drug Court opponent, said drug offenders should not be provided an alternative to facing trial and criminal punishment for their violations. York cited a staff analysis that showed the program, even with its limited participation, saved the county money compared with the cost of incarceration. “This is chump change to help individuals become successful,” York said. York’s motion to restore funding failed on a 3-4-2 vote. Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) supported the motion. Buona, Delgaudio, Williams and Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) voted against it. Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Susanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) were absent from Thursday’s meeting.
A similar program in juvenile court survived the evening.