Legislature Considers Drug Court for Juvenile Offenders

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(Host) The Senate has given its strong preliminary approval to legislation that sponsors hope will lead to the creation of a regional drug court in the state.

The goal of the bill is to establish an alternative sentencing program for young people with substance abuse problems who have been charged with a nonviolent crime. If a defendant acknowledges responsibility for the crime, they could be eligible for mandatory drug treatment programs and counseling instead of being sent to jail.

When the bill passed the House it included several hundred thousand dollars to fund a pilot drug court in Rutland. The Senate bill eliminates all state funds and relies on the availability of federal grants. It also creates six local committees to help select the specific location of the proposed drug court. The committees will be established in towns that express a strong interest in this program.

Rutland Senator John Bloomer:

(Bloomer) "But the whole concept there is to allow local communities ¿ if they want to participate ¿ to put together a group, come up with an idea they can use through their community with the services that are available, and try to figure out a comprehensive way of addressing some of the issues we deal with, both our youth and addiction.”

(Host) The measure is expected to come up for final approval in the Senate Thursday.

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