During last week’s Dawson County Republican Party meeting, Superior Court Judge Jason Deal outlined the positives of criminal justice reform measures recently enacted at the state level.
Specifically, he described one of the focus areas of the new criminal justice reform legislation: the drug court program.
As administrator for the drug court program in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, Deal said it’s a tried and true method to deter repeat offenders.
“Drug court is a behavior modification program, pure and simple,” said Deal during the April 28 meeting. “If you’ve ever taught your dog not to pee on the carpet, you do what I do in drug court.”
Those who take part in the drug court program must be charged and plead guilty to a drug-related offense. Participants sign a contract stating they will not take drugs.
Over the next two years, they are subjected to random drug screenings three times a week. They also must attend in-house meetings moderated by drug court counselors.
On April 22, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill to create the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians.
In a news release, Deal stressed the importance the council will place on saving taxpayer dollars while finding better ways to rehabilitate habitual violators.
Clint Bearden, Dawson County Republican Party Chairman, said: “One of the reasons for this legislation was largely the success of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit and the judges and personnel involved with the drug court program.”
Judge Deal said Georgia has the fourth largest prison population in the country.
“We spend a lot of money on prisoners,” he said. “It costs about $18,000 to keep a person in prison for a year.”
Deal said the drug court program is “the answer.
“Now, we can’t just be a hug-a-thug program. We can’t coddle criminals,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to be soft on crime. So, what’s the answer?”
“I believe the answer is drug court,” he said. “Drug court works.”