The 12th Judicial District Recovery Court of Tennessee serves the counties of Franklin, Grundy, Marion, and Sequatchie, Bledsoe, and Rhea with a population of approximately 146,486. The 2018 annual combined alcohol/drug arrests totaled approximately 2,180 people. This includes arrests for drug and paraphernalia possession, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as well as arrests for public intoxication and DUI. This makes up about 25% of the total crime in the district. However, when total arrest numbers are adjusted to exclude miscellaneous crimes and include crimes that are likely to be associated with drugs/alcohol (ie. assault, theft/shoplifting, disorderly conduct), it is estimated that 80% or more of all crimes in the district have some association with drugs and alcohol. Anywhere from 50-85% of those responsible for these crimes are repeat offenders and have a documented history with the justice system.
When the Recovery Court was initiated in the district in 2005, the main issue at hand was methamphetamine production and distribution. While methamphetamine lab seizures have decreased exponentially in the past decade, the issue with addiction to the potent substance remains. There is also a new threat that has emerged in the area that has caused law enforcement, treatment providers and drug courts to shift their focus; the opioid epidemic. In 2017, the 12th Judicial District witnessed 31 deaths due to overdose; 16 of those caused by heroin, prescription opiates and the synthetic opiate Fentanyl.
Recovery Court is a sentencing alternative providing life-saving treatment to people living with substance abuse and mental health disorders, offering a public health response to addiction within the criminal justice system. The Drug Court Program targets non-violent adult offenders at high risk for re-offending that meet the criteria established for admission into the Drug Court Program. Those individuals accepted into the Drug Court Program receive an intensive and comprehensive array of treatment services, frequent alcohol/drug testing, and supervision. This is coupled with active judicial supervision, a system of graduated intermediate sanctions for program violations, and recognition/reward for compliance and progress within the program.
Recovery Courts have proven to be a successful formula. An individual is only considered successful when he or she no longer exhibits criminal behavior, but also can secure and maintain employment, is living in the community paying bills and taxes, is taking care of any children involved and has become a responsible citizen. They are no longer a drain on the community, the government and the taxpayer, but are a contributing member of their community and continuously working hard to become a better person. The Court currently has a success rate of 84%. That is 84% of those sentenced into the program who successfully complete their sentence have not re-offended in the tracking period.
Want to see more statistical data about the impact Recovery Courts have on the communities they operate in?
Research has discovered that nationally 65% of all inmates meet requirements for substance abuse disorder and that alcohol and drugs account for 78% of violent crimes, 83% of property crimes and 77% of probation/parole violations. However only 11% of these individuals are offered help for their addiction. Nationally, 75% of Recovery Court graduates remain arrest-free for at least two years after leaving the program. When released from prison, 75% of offenders WILL RE-OFFEND in that two year period. Locally, the arrest-free ratio is 84%. Longer-term effects are still being researched. Scientific analyses have concluded that Recovery Courts reduce crime as much as 35% more than other sentencing options.
That's proven success!
Across the nation, for every $1.00 invested in Recovery Courts, taxpayers save as much as $3.36. This produces an annual cost savings ranging from $4,000-$12,000 per participant. In the 12th Judicial District, the cost of having a convicted felon in our program is approximately $11.26/day compared to $52/day for county incarceration and $72/day for state incarceration.
That's using resources to their maximum potential!
Nationally, family re-unification rates are 50% higher among Drug Court participants. In our local Recovery Court, we have witnessed a majority of our participants with children regain visitation rights, partial and even full custody of their kids. Many of our participants attend regular parenting classes. Recovery Court participants begin paying their child support immediately upon employment, something many of them have NEVER done.
That's teaching responsibility!
Studies show that unless substance abusing/addicted offenders are regularly supervised by a judge and held accountable, 70% will drop out of treatment prematurely. The 12th Judicial District Recovery Court maintains a program of intensive supervision and case management in order to provide the structure it's participants need to thrive. The program involves a six-phase framework that decreases in intensity as a participant achieves the standards required by each phase. On average, a participant has around 7 random drug screens a month.
That's support for recovery!
Research has proven that without a stable home and life environment, one's recovery is likely to suffer. By teaching our participant's standard life skills, requiring them to maintain full-time employment, acquire their own housing, driver's license and vehicle and repaying their actual debts to society, we show them the value in living an honest, clean and sober life. This in turn supports their recovery. They are living in the community, paying bills and taxes, contributing to and not draining from society. They are setting and achieving goals and becoming better individuals day by day.
That's our mission in action!