Joint court a good plan to address community’s drug problem

  • Saturday, December 5, 2015 7:20pm
  • Opinion

A positive story this week from the
justice system: plans are moving forward for a therapeutic-style court on the Kenai Peninsula. According to a Clarion report, the proposed court will be a collaborative effort between the Alaska Court System and the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. The program will target substance abusers and those facing lengthy felony sentences, engaging with community partners to focus on healing and recovery.

All too often, those who are jailed for committing crimes never see the underlying causes for their behavior addressed and they become repeat offenders.

This program could help to lower the recidivism rate by treating both the substance abuse and the criminal behavior.

Those eligible participate in the therapeutic court will be required to commit to an at least 18-month program, with the goal of addressing the causes of a person’s behavior — while still holding them accountable for their actions.

In an area where so much of the court’s case load involves issues stemming from substance abuse, a therapeutic court makes sense. As Kim Sweet, chief judge for the Kenaitze Indian tribe, told the Clarion, “We need to be community minded, we need to support each other in this movement against substance abuse. It’s affecting all ages, all races in our population right now in our community.”

As the state struggles to control the burgeoning prison population, this court may be a good way to avoid the costly expense of jailing people who may need therapy more than they need punishment.

We applaud the effort to address substance abuse issues in our community in a holistic way, and we look forward to seeing the program’s long-term benefits.

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