'Live Here' profiles drug court

Posted by John Kanelis on

Joanna Bartlett tells a success story about herself.

She once was a serious drug abuser. She got hooked on various pain killers, "graduating" to more serious drugs, finally finding out about the uses of "street drugs," such as heroin. Bartlett racked up eight felony charges with a rap sheet as long as your leg. She lost custody of her oldest child.

Joanna Bartlett was an extreme mess. She was "in and out of jail" several times.

Did she go to prison to serve her time behind bars? No. She went to Drug Court, presided over by 181st District Judge John Board. Bartlett was put on probation, but ordered to go through the treatment program mandated by the Drug Court.

Bartlett's one of the stories profiled Thursday at 7 p.m., with the debut installment of the "Live Here" public affairs program.

You want to some more interesting news? You can see it on YouTube.

And if you want to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, use #LiveHerePBS.

There should be plenty to discuss about this innovative new program.

Richard Bernal, deputy director of the adult probation department, noted that the Drug Court isn't a get-soft notion. He said the court sets "tough standards" for probationers to follow. If they violate any one of the standards set, they are sent to jail, Bernal said.

Has the Drug Court worked flawlessly? Not at all, Board said.

He noted that some Drug Court participants have been weeded out because they demonstrate "criminal tendencies." The idea is to rehabilitate offenders who are willing to work toward weaning themselves of their drug use -- or their addiction, as in the case of Joanna Bartlett.

Not everyone makes it, Board said, noting that he encounters individuals on occasion who tell him they were sentenced to the Drug Court, didn't cut it, went to jail, but then finally "got it."

Our jails are full, as are our state's prisons, of individuals who've been convicted of drug crimes. Drug Court seeks another avenue for offenders to find their way out of the wilderness.

Take a look Thursday night on Panhandle PBS to see how Drug Court seeks to help these offenders restore their lives.

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