The Lincoln County Drug and HOPE Court Programs are essential components of the Lincoln County justice system. These programs save lives and families, save taxpayer dollars, and keep individuals out of jail and prison and engaged with their communities as productive citizens.
In celebration of “National Drug Court Month,” the Lincoln County Drug and Hope Court Programs will hold a public recognition ceremony at 2:30 pm on May 20, 2013, in the Lincoln County Courthouse. The Honorable Thomas O. Branford, Presiding Judge of the Lincoln County Circuit Court, will deliver the keynote address. This is the Lincoln County Drug Court Program’s sixth anniversary since it was founded in 2007. The Lincoln County HOPE program was begun in 2010.
At any given time, approximately 40 persons are enrolled as participants in the Drug and HOPE Court Programs, which provide intensive comprehensive drug treatment, supervision, and accountability. These programs are often called problem-solving courts, which are designed to address the underlying reasons why certain individuals commit crime, are unable to effectively parent their children, and are unable to be productive members of our community. In the case of Drug and HOPE Court participants, the underlying cause is substance abuse and addiction. In Oregon, an estimated 78 percent of property crimes are committed by substance abusers stealing to support their addiction.
Drug abuse treatment is beneficial to participants, taxpayers, and our community. County Commissioner Bill Hall said he is very proud to have been part of the effort that led to the creation of the Lincoln County Drug Court Program. “Not only has our Drug Court transformed and saved lives,” said Commissioner Hall, “it has created new working relationships between the public safety and human services programs in our county that have had far-reaching benefits.”
The success of the programs reveals that cost savings can be expected to continue to accrue over time, repaying the program investment costs, and providing further savings in opportunity resources to public agencies.
Like the other 2,700 operational drug courts in the United States, the Lincoln County Drug Court Program is a judicially-supervised court docket that reduces correctional costs, protects community safety, and improves public welfare. In drug court, substance abusing individuals remain in treatment for extended periods of time while under supervision.
Drug and HOPE court participants must meet their obligations to themselves, their families, society and, in the case of property crimes, their victims. To ensure accountability, participants are regularly and randomly tested for drug use, required to appear frequently in court for the Judge to review their progress, rewarded for doing well, and promptly sanctioned for not living up to their obligations. Research continues to show that drug courts and HOPE programs work better than jail or prison, better than standard probation, and better than treatment alone.
Drug courts and HOPE programs are some of our Nation’s most effective strategies at reducing recidivism among substance abusing, nonviolent offenders with long criminal histories. Nationally, 75% of individuals who complete drug court are not re-arrested. In Lincoln County, data indicates that our own drug court program exceeds that standard at 84%.
Problem-solving court programs throughout our Nation demonstrate that a combination of accountability and compassion should be the foundation upon which our criminal justice system handles addiction. This May, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners celebrates two of our four highly successful problem-solving court programs by proclaiming May “Drug and HOPE Court Month in Lincoln County, Oregon.”