Acree addresses Third Review Club
Posted: Monday, January 24, 2011 8:01 pm
Circuit Judge William B. Acree was the guest speaker of the Third Review Club’s January meeting, held at St. James Episcopal Church in Union City.
Judge Acree discussed the history and role of the drug court, a court supervised drug rehabilitation program designed to help non-violent drug offenders break the grip of addiction.
“The primary problem people face when they get out of jail is that their same old peer group is out there and they are back in jail in no time,” he said.
To qualify for drug court, the candidates must serve 30 to 60 days in jail, to be sure they are clean when they go into drug court. As a rule, the candidate must have pled guilty to a felony drug conviction, since the entire process of drug court takes about a year and a half to complete, and General Sessions Court, which can rule in misdemeanors, has jurisdiction for cases with a sentence of no more than 11 months and 29 days.
The candidates remain on probation during the time they are in drug court, and failure to follow the rules of drug court can result in revocation of probation, whereupon the candidate goes to jail to serve his sentence. The candidates must have a job, submit to curfews, have random drug screens, have no association with drug users, attend weekly drug court meetings held at the Obion County Law Enforcment Complex at 9 a.m. on Fridays and make regular payment of child support and other court-ordered obligations.
“The best aspect of drug court is that it gives the candidate a peer group who are also trying to break the grip of drug addiction,” Acree said.
Since the drug court began operation in 2004, more than 60 percent of participants have made it through to graduation. The drug court has a 40-member volunteer steering committee and involves Acree, General Sessions Court Judges Jimmy Smith and Tommy Moore, Veronica Thornton with West State Corrections and Johnny Welch, who provides psychological services.
“Honesty is the most important lesson most of our candidates have to learn. When they have had a history of drug use for years, they have learned a pattern of lying to cover the habit,” Acree said.
The meeting was hosted by vice president Mary Dunavant, who stood in for president Hazel Williams, who was unable to attend, and for Bemice Shore, who was unable to attend due to serious illness in her family.
Published in The Messenger 1.24.11