Morgan County Drug Court hosts training session

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Morgan County General Sessions Judge Mike Davis and members of the Morgan County Drug Court recently spent two days training in an effort to find the best way to treat area residents who are suffering from drug addiction.

“The National Association of Drug Court Professionals does free training for teams like ours,” Davis said. “We have members on our team from the District Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s office, the probation office, the sheriff’s department and then the treatment facility. We’re all getting training updates because new stuff is always happening.

There are new techniques and ways to handle folks with these drug issues.

Judge Davis started Morgan County’s Drug Court more than 11 years ago because he was tired of seeing the same faces in court continually facing drug related charges.

“I’ve been a judge for a while and I would see that jail didn’t work,” he said. “These folks are drug addicted when they go in. We warehouse them, keep them in jail and when they get out they have the same issue because they have an addiction. What this does is try to treat the addiction and deal with that problem.

“The drug court system works better for some people than others. Sometimes, we find out they’re just mean and they’re going to serve their time. We can’t do much with those folks, but when we find folks with the ability to do better and want to do better then it’s helpful to everybody.”

Davis says the program isn’t easy for those who enter. Over the years the success rate has varied to as low as 18 percent to around 50 percent.

“It’s a consistent program where you have the judge’s involvement and all these team members come together to get them assessed to find out what kind of treatment would be beneficial to them,” Davis said. “It could be inpatient or outpatient and then we follow up to see what they have done to apply for a job and what have they done to keep their sobriety that week. We have court every week. When they complete the program, they are working and not in jail.”

“Our success has varied. We’ve had some folks that have gone through our program and have never come back and we’ve had some that have reentered a second time as a way to help them.”

Judge Davis says the program is paid for through a grant and he doesn’t get paid extra. He does, however, think the citizens of Morgan County benefit from everyone who completes the program.

“First off we’re not having to pay to keep them in jail and that’s $35 to $37 a day,” he said. “Then if they’re working, they’re buying groceries, paying their light bill, and that’s part of being a productive citizen.”

Davis also wants known that his office and the drug court are there to help even if someone has yet to commit a crime.

“We can put you in touch with a number of treatment facilities,” he said. “Everybody has a different module they are using and we can put them in touch with a lot of folks even if they are not involved in the criminal justice system.”

Call 346-9760 or 346-6493 for more information.