By Max Hrenda
In late October, Washington County Sessions Court publicly stated that it hopes to incorporate a new method by which to deal with repeat drug offenders – a drug court.
Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, who prosecutes cases in the First Judicial District – which comprises Washington, Carter, Johnson, and Unicoi counties – likes the idea, but thinks it could go a bit further.
“We’ve never had a drug court that covered the Criminal Court level,” Brooks said. “It’s basically an extra tool that the court system can have to address drug addiction problems short of just incarcerating them from your sentence.”
During his 15 years prosecuting cases in the First District, Brooks has gradually become more familiar with the drug court concept, and is so convinced of its benefits that he has made it one of his main platforms in his bid for the Criminal Court judge’s seat that will be vacated when Judge Robert Cupp retires in 2014.
“It takes offenders that are identified as addicts, who are not on violent-type crimes … and diverts them through a different program, where there is more intense supervision, drug testing, and drug counseling,” Brooks said. “They have to, initially, go to drug court every week. Before court starts, the counselors, program administrator, the judge, and whoever else is involved, goes over the docket, and goes over how each individual has done that week.”