JACKSBORO, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – “All rise. The General Sessions Recovery Court of Campbell County is now in session.” Sgt. David Goins of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department announced those words for the first time on Fri., Sept. 1. It was a day of significance not only because it was the first official day of the General Sessions Recovery Court of Campbell County, but it was also the one-year anniversary of General Sessions Judge Bill Jones taking the bench. “Rae Lawson and I have worked tirelessly on this program for an entire year. It really is a dream come true to watch it come alive,” said Jones.
Recovery Court is a program designed to take individuals suffering from substance abuse and give them the option of treatment in place of jail. People who are charged with and/or convicted of misdemeanor crimes can enter the program, which last 18 to 24 months. Participants are evaluated for their level of need and then generally sent to an in-patient treatment program followed by transitional/sober living facilities.
“The whole idea is to teach people to live sober lives. We want to return parents to their children, get people back to work, and stop the catch and release system that exists with drug offenders. If an addict is arrested and serves whatever amount of time in jail, they are released back to the world still an addict with the same habits,” said Jones.
Rae Lawson serves as the General Sessions Recovery Court Coordinator. Having worked previously in Judge Shayne Sexton’s Eighth Judicial Recovery Court, as well as having served as the director of the Bridges to Recovery program, she knew how a Recovery Court should work. “We have needed a new program in the courts for a long time. The same people are in and out of the system over and over again, and I would say that the majority of them are committing crimes because of addiction. Recovery Court is a strict and structured evidence-based program that works, and we have seen it work for years on the felony level. My hope is that if we can intervene in the addict’s life on a misdemeanor level, we can get them help before the addiction progresses any further,” said Lawson.
The General Sessions Recovery Court team is comprised of service providers (including Bridges to Recovery, Volunteers for Recovery, and New Beginnings), the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, Ridgeview Behavioral Health, ETHRA probation, and others with special knowledge of addiction and recovery. The team helps Judge Jones in making decisions related to each participant and keeps him informed on their progress.
“Since I also preside over Juvenile Court, I see the disaster that addiction takes on the entire family. An addict just doesn’t have problems of their own, they disrupt entire families – often affecting generations. It absolutely kills me to watch what a child with addicted parents goes through. And all too often they grow up and fall into the same trap. We may not fix it, but we won’t stop trying,” said Jones.
If you or a loved one may be eligible for the General Sessions Recovery Court program, or just need help finding treatment for drug addiction, call Judge Jones’ office at 423-562-6020. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 09/18/2023-6AM)