Court Information Office
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
For Immediate Release
STATEWIDE DRUG COURT COMMISSION
(Annapolis, MD–January 4, 2002) The Maryland Judiciary’s commitment to its highly-successful drug courts will receive a boost from a new Commission which has been established by Judiciary leadership to standardize and advance these programs statewide.
Although the Drug Court Commission is a Judiciary initiative, it will also include representatives from state criminal justice organizations and the executive and legislative branches.
“I am very proud of the success of Maryland’s drug courts, and am pleased to see the Judiciary take the lead in their advancement,” Chief Judge Bell said. “With the cooperation of other criminal justice officials and state leaders, I am confident that our programs will help more and more individuals who are caught in the downward spiral of drug abuse to rebuild their lives and become productive citizens. The Judicial Council and Cabinet should be commended for their efforts in making this vision a reality.”
According to Baltimore City District Court Judge Jamey H. Weitzman, who will chair the Commission, “The Judiciary, through the leadership of Chief Judge Bell, is interested in making sure the development and operation of drug courts in Maryland is standardized and functioning at the highest levels. We will workto develop ‘best practices’ and coordinate efforts across the state to proceed in a more efficient manner.” She is “very excited” about this Commission and the success of drug courts, which she has championed for several years as director of the program in Baltimore City District Court.
Baltimore City Circuit Judge Thomas E. Noel, who heads Baltimore City’s Circuit Drug Court, has been selected to co-chair the commission. Other members will be announced in coming weeks.
Several counties and Baltimore City presently have drug courts. These programs, geared to nonviolent drug addicts, combine extensive supervision of participants with comprehensive drug treatment, thus addressing all aspects of addiction. The programs also reintroduce graduates into society, by providing life skills services such as job placement, assisting with finding housing, and helping them to reunite with their families. Maryland’s drug courts have been resoundingly successful – for example, in Baltimore City District Court, the recidivism rate for graduates hovers around 10%.
According to Judge Noel, many of the offenders in these programs have had no problems with the law except for drug-related offenses, and he stressed the importance of treating this population, hand-in-hand with support from the courts, lawyers, and the criminal justice system. “Because of drug treatment courts, our graduates go from tax burdens to taxpayers,” Judge Noel said. “They become good parents and productive citizens.”
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