By ROBERT S. MERRILL
Preston Mayor F. Lee Hendrickson proclaimed May as National Drug Court Month before a packed house in the council chambers on Monday.
District Court Judge Robert Naftz addressed the council and explained the benefits of having a drug court in Franklin County. Magistrate Judges Eric Hunn and Mitchell Brown accompanied Naftz.
There has been a drug court established locally for over six years. Naftz, a Sixth Judicial District judge, has presided over Felony Drug and DUI Drug courts for over 10 years.
“This month, drug courts throughout Idaho will join over 2,800 drug courts nationwide in celebrating National Drug Court Month. By month’s end, thousands of individuals who entered the criminal justice system addicted to drugs and facing incarceration will complete drug court and emerge as productive, taxpaying citizens,” he said.
Sentencing and prison reform is at the forefront right now, but if we are serious about reducing substance abuse, crime and recidivism, while saving money for taxpayers, then we must continue to expand drug courts, according to Naftz.
He said in 1998, the first drug court in Idaho opened its doors with a simple premise: rather than continue to allow individuals with long histories of drug abuse and crime to cycle through the criminal justice system at great expense to the public, use the leverage of the court to keep them engaged in drug treatment long enough to be successful.
“Today, drug courts have proven a combination of accountability and compassion cannot only save lives, but save valuable resources and reduce exorbitant criminal justice costs,” he said.
“Nationally, drug courts return to the community up to $27 for every $1 invested. Drug courts reduce crime by up to 50 percent and the longest study to date shows reductions lasted an astounding 14 years. Drug courts not only divert individuals from a life of drug abuse and crime, but has been proven to reduce use of jail or prison beds and family conflicts associated with domestic violence and child abuse.”
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