A recent news story chronicled how Nueces County’s Drug Court works. This coastal Texas county isn’t unique in its operation of a drug court program, though. At least 13 local jurisdictions run these courts in conjunction with Texas Child Protective Services (CPS). The Dallas City Attorney’s Office runs the South Dallas Community Court.
What is the role of a drug court?
Many factors motivate counties or cities to set up community drug courts. Most do so to try and address the roots of a person’s substance abuse. This deferred prosecution program often allows families to remain intact, drug offenders to stay employed and active in the community while getting the help for their addiction that they so desperately need.
Proponents of such alternative sentencing programs believe that keeping individuals with drug dependencies out of prison is key to helping defendants kick their habit and reduce recidivism. They also believe that helping addicts overcome their problems is one key toward building more stable family units.
Data compiled by CPS shows that there were at least 11,000 kids removed from their homes in Texas in 2018 because their parents had a substance abuse problem. Many of the cases that make it to drug court involve parents who are no longer capable of caring for their kids because of their substance abuse habit. CPS sees this court system as a last-ditch option for keeping families together before they intervene and remove the children from their parents’ home.
Many drug court defendants have been in a courtroom before
A significant number of the parents who find themselves in drug court aren’t inside of a courtroom for the first time in their lives. Many of the defendants struggled with drug or other issues when they were juveniles and didn’t receive the help they needed. The court sees getting them the right kind of help as the final option for helping them turn their lives around.
While the prospect of staying free to get the help that you need for drug addiction may sound ideal, it’s not an option available to just anyone in Texas. Whether you qualify for participation depends on various factors, including funding, the seriousness of your offense and your potential for success at overcoming your addiction. An attorney can review your Dallas case and help you understand more.