Judge: Fayette’s DUI/Drug Court saves lives and dollars

Fayette State Court Judge Jason B. Thompson. Photo/Submitted.
Fayette State Court Judge Jason B. Thompson. Photo/Submitted.

The Fayette County DUI/Drug Court in celebration of National Drug Court Month will spotlight the program at its annual State Court Open House for the public on Friday, May 10 at 9 a.m. at the Fayette County Justice Center. Nationwide, successfully completed drug courts have a 75 percent success rate.

The DUI/Drug Court was initiated on Jan. 1, 2016 by State Court Judge Jason B. Thompson.

“Our DUI/Drug Court save lives, families, jobs and dollars,” said Thompson, who also supervises the court.

Since its inception in 2016, the Fayette County DUI/Drug Court has graduated 25 individuals. Currently 30 participants are in the program. To date, the Fayette County DUI/Drug Court has saved Fayette County taxpayers over $465,000 in deferred jail costs for offenders with substance abuse issues, Thompson said.

Thompson said the court reduces correctional costs, enhances community safety and improves public welfare. In the program, addicted individuals remain in treatment for 12-18 months while under close supervision. Court participants must meet obligations to the court, themselves and society. To ensure accountability, participants are regularly and randomly tested for substance use, attend required therapy and addiction recovery meetings and must appear frequently in court for the judge to review their progress.

National Drug Court Month is coordinated by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). Treatment courts throughout the nation are advocating to ensure continued federal and state funding for these effective, evidence-based programs. Treatment courts are this nation’s most effective strategy to reduce recidivism among substance-addicted, nonviolent offenders with criminal histories. Nationally, 75 percent of individuals who complete such programs are not re-arrested. Accountability courts save up to $13,000 for every individual they serve.

“Treatment courts are a proven budget solution that stops the revolving door of arrest and incarceration for people with substance use and mental health disorders,” said NADCP CEO Carson Fox. “Congress must support DUI/Drug Courts so they can continue to restore lives, reunite families and make communities safer, all while saving millions of valuable taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the DUI/Drug Court, Judge Thompson is actively involved in creating a Veterans Treatment Court in Fayette County. It will be the first treatment court designed for veterans in the Griffin Judicial Circuit. Judge Thompson was given approval by the Fayette County commissions at their Feb. 28 meeting to submit a grant application to the Council of Accountability Court Judges. The goal of a Veterans Treatment Court is to divert eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness who are charged with misdemeanor criminal offenses to a specialized criminal court docket.

The next DUI/Drug Court graduation is scheduled for June 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Courtroom 2D in the Fayette Justice Center and the public is invited.