Since 2005 TNCSA has been involved in the growth of the drug court movement in Tennessee. During that time we acquired grants to start and operate 4 juvenile drug courts and 3 adult drug courts, located in Putnam, DeKalb, White, and Cumberland Counties. In 2010 Putnam and DeKalb Counties transitioned their drug courts from TNCSA management to become a part of their county court systems. We are proud of having been able to incubate those drug courts and prepare them for that transition.
We are also pleased to be able to continue managing the Cumberland and White County Drug Courts under contract to the respective counties.
Juvenile Drug Courts provide close supervision and case management services for youth with substance abuse issues who plea to, or are convicted of, a drug-related charge in the juvenile court. The goal is to keep the youth in the home and ultimately out of the juvenile justice system. Juvenile Drug Court is usually a last step before out of home placement, and unsuccessful termination from the program generally results in the child being taken from the home and placed into state custody.
TNCSA’s drug court staff work closely with DCS probation officers, the county juvenile court systems, schools, families, as well as substance abuse treatment and mental health centers to make sure that the youth receive needed treatment as well as help in other areas of their lives. Youth participating in the program are expected to refrain completely from the use of drugs and alcohol. Drug screenings are conducted frequently to confirm that abstinence is being maintained.
Once the youths complete initial substance abuse treatment, emphasis is placed on school attendance and performance, becoming successful in other activities, and in maintaining or improving their family and interpersonal relationships. Participation in the program generally lasts for nine months to a year, or longer if needed.
Adult Drug Courts provide an alternative to incarceration for non-violent criminals with substance abuse problems. Over 80% of those who are incarcerated will re-offend, and the jail becomes a revolving door for individuals whose lives are a vicious cycle of substance abuse and incarceration. Hope is lost, lives are wasted, and families are destroyed.
Drug Courts break this cycle by combining judicial supervision and substance abuse treatment for two years, or more if needed, to carefully guide the participants to new patterns of thinking and acting. Initially the emphasis is on substance abuse treatment and learning how to replace their criminal thinking and behavior patterns with more healthy alternatives. They are transitioned back into the community where they become productive members of society. They break their ties with unhealthy relationships and learn to build new, positive, and loving ties with friends and family members.