Judge: Effective drug program underutilized - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Judge: Effective drug program underutilized

Drug court brags of bringing the hammer down on drug abuse and crime. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Drug court brags of bringing the hammer down on drug abuse and crime. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke (Source: WAVE 3 News) District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke (Source: WAVE 3 News)
President of The Healing Place Karyn Hascal (Source: WAVE 3 News) President of The Healing Place Karyn Hascal (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Drug court expert Doug Marlowe (Source: WAVE 3 News) Drug court expert Doug Marlowe (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Drugs are running rampant in Jefferson County, destroying families and fueling crime.

But what if there was a drug sentencing program that reduced crime by 45%?

Well, it does exist. But WAVE 3 News Investigative Reporter Natalia Martinez found it's not being used by the courts nearly as much as it could.

Drug court brags of bringing the hammer down on drug abuse and crime.

"It is a win, win, win." District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke said. She runs one of four drug courts.

But she says a program that should be over-used is being neglected.

"There's no excuse when we're seeing hundreds of cases a day," Burke said.

Right now Burke says they average between 80 and 90 people total. But that number should be more like 200.  

"It's just kind of a shame that it's underutilized," Karyn Hascal, President of The Healing Place, told us.

The Healing Place works with the county's drug court, and sees results.

Drug court marries drug treatment with supervision by the court system, all while keeping people out of jail.

"Addicts know when they go to drug court, this is serious," Hascal explained.

So what's happening?

Burke says, addicts aren't being identified or referred to the program by prosecutors, attorneys, or judges. Sometimes drug court isn't part of the plea negotiation.

Enter Doug Marlowe. He practically wrote the book on drug court.

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"We're in the midst of the biggest drug epidemic we've probably ever experienced," Marlowe said. "People need treatment, but they also need to be held accountable for their behavior."

 He made the trip to Louisville Thursday to teach local law professionals the drug court ropes.

"How do you identify who is appropriate for this program so that their eyes and ears are open," he explained.

The good news is the ball's already rolling, though it may need a little push.

"Better education and more public awareness that this is something that is an option," Burke said.

Participants must have received a minimum sentence of 365 days in a misdemeanor case or be convicted of a felony.

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