Drug court makes sense for Flathead

Print Article

As Flathead Valley law-enforcement agencies battle an increase in the use of meth, heroin and prescription medicines, it’s encouraging to hear judicial officials and law-enforcement leaders talking seriously about starting a drug court for Flathead County’s judicial district.

Drug courts are judicially supervised court dockets that aim to strike a balance between the need for treatment and the need to hold people accountable for their actions. Instead of simply incarcerating people for their drug-related crimes, drug courts offer specialized programs to treat offenders who have drug- and alcohol-dependency problems.

The traditional model of sending offenders to jail has never been very successful because they don’t get the tools they need to maintain sobriety once they’re back in society.

Drug courts have a good track record. Seventy percent of Montana drug-court graduates did not re-offend in the first two years after discharge, according to a state judicial report. Compare that to the fact that 60 to 80 percent of drug abusers commit a new crime, typically drug-driven crime, after getting out of prison. About 95 percent return to drug abuse after they’re released, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

In addition to helping drug addicts get their lives back, another benefit of a drug court is that it would free up space in Flathead County’s already crowded jail. It would buy the county some breathing room as county leaders weigh their options for building a new jail and getting voter support to pay for it.

Judicial court districts are eligible to get start-up funding for a drug court, to the tune of $350,000 over three years.

So what’s the holdup in launching a drug court here?

Apparently support is lacking from the Flathead County Attorney’s Office, according to Flathead District Judge Heidi Ulbricht, who tried last year to garner support for a drug court.

The solution to that could play out in next year’s election when the county attorney position is up for election. We need someone who will support this kind of problem-solving court program.

The Flathead needs a drug court, and needs it now.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Can anyone explain what Phil Mitchell was thinking?

May 20, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake We may never get an adequate answer to this question: What was Phil Mitchell thinking? What was Flathead County Commissioner Phil Mitchell thinking when he unilaterally destroyed five cottonwood tre...

Comments

Read More

Vote ... but please not too early

May 13, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Last week, we wrote an editorial encouraging our readers to vote. This week, we are writing an editorial encouraging you to wait! Absentee ballots were mailed out last week, and those ballots can no...

Comments

Read More

A bus for the vets: Can you help?

May 11, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake There are many ways we can give back to our veterans, and a new project surfaced this week that has us jumping on board. Longtime Montana Veterans Home volunteer Dianna Bennett is spearheading a fun...

Comments

Read More

Election mission: Study up and vote!

May 06, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake And the race is on. There seems to be a high level of interest in this year’s primary election, from county contests to state and federal races. The Daily Inter Lake has been publishing articles abo...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

News: (406) 837-5131
Advertising: 406-758-4410
Bigfork Eagle
c/o Daily Inter Lake
PO Box 7610
Kalispell, MT 59904

©2018 Bigfork Eagle Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X