Judge invites local leaders to learn more about drug court with informational presentation – Marshalltown Times Republican

Aug 13, 2022
T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY District Court Judge John Haney, front, presented on Enhanced Security Court, also known as drug court, at the MAX building in Marshalltown Friday with a crowd of local officials and leaders in the fields of mental health and substance abuse prevention. Also pictured is correctional officer Rick Day, back.
The use and abuse of illicit drugs is a problem both in Marshall County and around the country, but traditional corrective methods like long-term incarceration have often failed to produce notable changes in behavior or reductions in recidivism.
As a result, some judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, correctional officers and others involved in the system have rethought what justice means and how offenders can be reintegrated into society through probation without permanently ruining their lives. Joel McAnulty, a correctional official for the state of Iowa who is based in Marshalltown, compared the situation to the old saying about the definition of insanity.
“We’re kind of like gerbils on a wheel. We keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome,” he said.
In Marshall County, the program is known as ESCAPE or enhanced supervision, but it’s set up on a drug court model. District Court Judge John Haney was happy to share success stories with an engaged audience of local leaders and officials including Rep. Sue Cahill (D-Marshalltown), Sen. Jeff Edler (R-State Center), County Supervisor Steve Salasek, County Attorney Jordan Gaffney, Assistant County Attorney (and county attorney candidate) Sarah Tupper, Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper and Marshalltown City Councilor Jeff Schneider at the MAX building on Friday morning.
Drug court, as Haney repeatedly reiterated, isn’t a walk in the park. As an alternative to traditional incarceration, it requires frequent urinalysis testing and treatment, and not everyone passes.
After sharing a video from the popular YouTube personality Catfish Cooley about breaking the cycle of addiction, Haney went into more detail about the goal of drug court and the challenges the individuals who participate in it face.
“That’s what we’re trying to do with the offenders that we’re working with is try to help them move forward in life,” Haney said. “You can sit and dwell on the mistakes you’ve made your whole life and circle them forever, and I’ll tell you, most of our offenders and a lot of people I know do that. Moving forward is the hard part, so we’re trying to give them the tools to do it.”
So far, drug courts have enjoyed bipartisan support — as evidenced by the fact that both Cahill and Edler attended the event — and Haney hopes the trend will continue well into the future. Housing an offender in an institution costs approximately $106.69 per day, and the number jumps to $114.22 per day for a residential facility. By contrast, the resources required to keep that same individual on parole or probation through drug court are about $7 per day.
Spread out over a year, it’s a cost of about $7,400 compared to between $38,000 and $41,000 if the offender is incarcerated.
“I’d even argue to you that it’s a no-brainer, and I’d love for you to argue otherwise,” Haney said. “It saves money, and it cuts crime. And the data’s out there that supports this type of program.”
Individuals who meet the federal definition of a violent offender are not allowed into the program, and Haney said he believed some of them could benefit from it, admitting them could jeopardize funding sources. As Mike Tupper indicated in a recent yearly police report, methamphetamine is still the illegal drug of choice in Marshalltown and a driver of much of the other crime that is committed within city limits.
Before wrapping up, Haney brought in three past graduates of the program — including one who had nearly lost parental rights to her children — along with one new participant and one who received his certificate of completion on Friday, and the judge congratulated them all on taking the necessary steps to change their lives for the better. As Salasek noted during remarks he shared with the group, the scourge of addiction can come for anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race or socioeconomic status.
Contact Robert Maharry
at 641-753-6611 ext. 253 or
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