Drug Court Program First of It's Kind in Texas

Community Supervision Director Terry Easterling
Community Supervision Director Terry Easterling

by: Kristen Guilfoos
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - It's supposed to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. A brand new multi-county drug court approved on Tuesday becomes the first of it's kind in Texas.

The new drug court is an combined effort between Potter, Randall and Armstrong counties.

It's similar to the accountability court already in place in Potter County, but this takes it to a whole new level.

It's a tri-county collaboration aimed at saving taxpayers money by keeping offenders out of jail.

Community Supervision Director Terry Easterling says, "You take 20 offenders, you multiply that by the thirty months which is the average prison commitment, $52 a day, you're talking about tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of savings." All the while making the community a safer place.

Easterling adds, "If we don't get the treatment and the help they need to change their behavior that led to the criminal act in the first place, they're just gonna get out and re-offend again."

Local leaders are hoping that help will come from this drug court.

It involves certain law-breakers who are at risk of having their probation revoked, and requires them to go in front of the judge every week. At that point they are either rewarded or sanctioned for obeying or disobeying the terms of their probation.

We spoke with a woman involved in the program who wishes to remain anonymous.

She's been in the Potter County program for about five months now and she says the positive re-enforcement through rewards is working. "Community service hours taken away, and once that's taken care of you get some of your fines taken off."

She's one of nearly thirty folks who already take part in the Potter County program... A program which they're hoping will grow dramatically once all three counties are involved.

Sex offenders, extremely violent offenders and those caught with large quantities of drugs are not eligible for this program.