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Supreme Court Chief Argues for Expanding Treatment Courts Workin - KOAM TV 7

Supreme Court Chief Argues for Expanding Treatment Courts Working Well in Jasper County

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JASPER COUNTY, MISSOURI -

   Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer delivered the state of the judiciary report yesterday.
     The bad news is that  the state's incarceration rate is above the national average. According to the chief justice the answer is in treatment courts.
    Those have had success in Jasper County but fifteen counties in the state still don
t offer them.

 Chief Justice Zel Fischer said,  "Undeniable research demonstrates that treatment courts are more cost effective than any criminal justice strategy."

Fischer called on lawmakers to fund the  programs that in Jasper county include a veterans court, along with drug court, DWI court and mental health or co-occurring addiction treatment courts.
Even  participants say  they save money. Paul Good is in recovery through treatment court for drug addiction and now has a job in fast food. 
Good said, "Instead of committing crimes to feed their addiction they
re going to jobs to support their families  which in itself saves taxpayers a ton of money. "
Keeping people out of jail saves on prison housing and food cost and the key to success according to treatment program coordinators is the focus. Jasper County court administrator Erik Theis explained,
We deal with the root  problem which is substance abuse that brings these people into the criminal justice system.
Court services officer Matt Ouren added, Our treatment courts are finding that core problem and we're tackling  it and  focusing on it.  Trying to get them involved in pro-social activities healthier hobbies. And we're also trying to cater their treatment to the trauma that led to their addiction. And you're not getting that anywhere else.

Besides getting real jobs, participants in treatment court do community service. One woman painted a  courtroom at the Joplin courthouse.
 Ouren said, "In  2017,  our treatment courts did over seven thousand hours of community service."  Some of that was feeding the homeless and also providing gift items to kids at the Children
s Haven.

Participant Paul Good said, "It teaches you a way of living that
s clean, healthy. Allows you to feel like you're part of society instead of against society."

It also has a better  recidivism rate which the court administrator says is half of those who come out of prison.

Theis said,
Of those that were incarcerated for drugs and released on parole, the recidivism rate was forty-three percent. In Jasper county, the ones that completed our drug treatment program, the recidivism rate was twenty percent.
Forty-seven  graduated from local treatment court which has a sixty percent graduation rate for those considered high risk and high need.  They only saw five percent of the county
s one thousand  felony cases. To  expand for more cases  takes money.
Theis said,
Obviously,  financial is  a big piece.  And Chief Justice Fischer did  touch upon that last year our courts were cut by twenty-seven percent."
 

Ouren said expanding would be helped by more drug testing,  better treatment opportunities, better funding for treatment and  on the judicial side, he said,  "More judges, a commissioner of some sort,  capacity to where we could put more  focus on recovery and treating the problem."

     To learn more about jasper county's treatment courts you can check out their website by clicking here. And to see the state of the judiciary click here.

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