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Drug Court to aid addicted parents

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

NASHVILLE — A local judge is creating a new program to help drug-addicted parents in danger of losing their children to the system.

State District Court Judge Anthony Brown wants to start a drug treatment court in Nash County to provide treatment to parents with problem-solving courts that take a public health approach. The specialized model uses the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social services and treatment communities working together to help addicted offenders into long-term recovery.

The Nash County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution during a workshop meeting Monday to help Brown by signing off on grants needed to run the drug court.

Brown said the drug court would receive no state funding but grants with no required local matches should fully fund the program at $500,000 annually.

Brown called illicit drugs the scourge of Nash County, deadly to users and devastating to their families.

“Drugs is not a spectator sport, eventually the entire family gets to play,” Brown said.

The drug court would be intense and invasive, helping parents who want to keep their children with counseling, mental health care and other elements.

In Nash County in 2015, 11 families with 19 children were in family court over drug-related issues. In 2016, it was 15 families with 24 children; in 2017, it was 11 families with 19 children; and in 2018 it was 15 families with 21 children.

Brown said he’s done his homework on how drugs affect the human brain with methamphetamine being the most dangerous because it rewires the brain to only feel happy when the drug is present.

The 12-month program will have participants meeting every two weeks and taking drug tests more frequently.

Brown said the success of the program depends on participants. He said as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make them drink. But, he added, “You can catch them when they’re real thirsty.”

Commissioner Fred Belfield said drug dealers must also be a priority.

“I see this as a twofold thing: This is good, but we also need to stop the flow of drugs coming in,” Belfield said.

Brown said he’s focused on the children. District Attorney Robert Evans also is on board with the program.

Evans told the Telegram later in the day that he supports Brown’s efforts.

Evans said in partnership with the law enforcement community, he believes authorities must continue to prosecute vigorously people who deal and profit in the distribution of illegal drugs.

“At the same time, we must acknowledge the devastation to individuals and families in our community directly attributed to drug addiction,” Evans said. “There is a subset of these individuals who come into the criminal justice system for whom traditional tools available to judges and prosecutors are not sufficient to address the real issues. Drug courts afford additional tools, giving us the chance to help rehabilitate and return more offenders to the community as productive citizens as opposed to having them rotate in and out of prison until they commit an offense from which there is no return.”

In other business at Monday’s workshop, commissioners, also unanimously approved a resolution to designate U.S. 264 as a Scenic Byway.

The highway is beautiful and needs recognition and protection, said Bobby Liverman, the planning director for Division 4, District 2 of the state Department of Transportation.

U.S. 264 stretches 11 miles through Nash County from the Wake County line to the Wilson County line with two interchanges, two bridges that cross Turkey Creek, two bridges that cross Buck Deans Road and five other overpass bridges.

The commissioners also were officially introduced to new Nashville Town Manager Randy Lansing, who has 20 years experience in municipal government management.

An Iowa native, Lansing said he’s happy to be out of the snow. He said he worked in Garner, Iowa, and received a lot of calls for Garner, North Carolina.

County Manager Zee Lamb told Lansing to get ready for a lot of calls for Nashville, Tennessee.

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