“Addiction plays no favorites. It ruins the lives of the rich, the poor, Democrats, Republicans, the young, the elderly, men, women, every skin color, ethnicity and religion. We urgently need sobriety courts, drug treatment courts, and veterans courts in Haywood and Jackson Counties to save lives and money.”
These courts help stop the revolving door of addiction, criminal offense, arrest, incarceration, release, addiction, criminal offense…. These courts have been wildly successful in Asheville and other counties throughout North Carolina and to our west in Rabun County, Georgia. For example, for the first three years of the sobriety court in Asheville not one graduate was later arrested for another DWI.
These are not new. Drug treatment courts have been working in Asheville for the past 18 years, and sobriety court for repeat DWI offenders has been running there since 2014. Sobriety courts deal with repeat DWI offenders. Drug treatment courts handle drug addicts who have engaged in non-violent offenses to feed their addictions. Veterans court handles military veterans who have committed non-violent misdemeanors and low-level felonies related to mental health and addiction issues.
Meanwhile, west of Asheville, we have nothing. I’ll explain why that is below. These courts are not “soft” on crime. In fact, for a Defendant to be eligible for voluntary and carefully screened entry into one of these programs he or she must first plead guilty, and serve his active prison sentence as ordered by the Judge. They also begin an intensive period of close supervision, alcohol monitoring with ankle bracelets, work requirements, community service, AA or NA and other treatment programs, and very frequent contact with their probation officer.
During this intensive monitoring any violations of the extensive terms of probation are addressed swiftly and severely. They can include sanctions ranging from a weekend in jail to a violation of their probation and a long active prison sentence. Teams of professionals meet regularly to consider each person’s progress in the system. If successful and sober participants graduate, on average after 18 months, as a law-abiding, taxpaying, child-raising, employed and productive member of society. The revolving door ends. Taxpayers no longer have to arrest them, incarcerate them, raise their children, or fear them on the street.
So, why are Haywood and Jackson Counties lacking these courts? Remarkably, aside from one paid professional funded through grants, local funds, and the Highway Fund for each program, all the providers, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and drug treatment professionals are volunteers.
My opponent already has accepted a second job as a Tribal Court Judge in addition to the job as Superior Court Judge the taxpayers elected him to perform. He required special permission from the State to allow him to moonlight in this second job, since judges are generally prohibited from any other gainful employment.
I am ready to be 100% all in every day as a Superior Court Judge, and work tirelessly to get others involved so we can get these programs started. We need to stop wasting time, wasting lives, and wasting money on these repeat offenders who want to be free from addiction. I do not need, nor would I accept a second job in another court. I will be ready to serve full-time for the taxpayers who hire me. Justice has many faces. One of those is changing lives of addicts so they stop hurting others and themselves.
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