Juneau Therapeutic Court to hold commencement ceremony

Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

JUNEAU - In recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Court Month, the Juneau Therapeutic Court will hold a ceremonial commencement and open house at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Courtroom A of the Dimond Courthouse.

For its most recent graduates, the ceremony will mark the completion of an intensive 18-month program of comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment, close supervision and full accountability presided over by Judge Keith B. Levy.

Rainforest Recovery Center Director Matt Felix will deliver the keynote address, and Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner will make additional remarks.

What started in a Florida court room 20 years ago has become the nation's most successful strategy for dealing with substance abusing offenders. Like many of the 2,400 operational therapeutic courts in the United States, the Juneau Therapeutic Court hears cases of offenders charged with drug and alcohol related crimes, primarily DUI offenders with multiple convictions. Drug and alcohol courts relieve already overwhelmed court dockets, placing offenders in an environment where they undergo treatment and counseling, submit to frequent and random drug and alcohol testing, make regular appearances before the judge and are monitored closely for program compliance.

Since Juneau's inception of the program in 2005, 24 local men and women have successfully completed the program.

"The Alaska Court System has embraced the concept of therapeutic justice by establishing therapeutic courts across the state with more being developed," Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe wrote in a letter for a past ceremony. A number of studies across the nation have shown these programs work. Through these programs many lives have been changed for the better," said Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana during a past ceremony.

Nationally, 75 percent of Drug Court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs. At a time when budgets are increasingly strapped, Drug Courts represent a program with proven results, one official said.

"Drug Courts are one of the most researched criminal justice programs in our justice system," said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. "The scientific community has put Drug Court under the microscope and concluded that they work. In fact, drug courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy."

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