“Born Addicted” is designed to prosecute mothers who ingest drugs while pregnant. But instead of sending the mothers to prison, the goals are addressing the mother’s drug addiction issues and reuniting the newborn with his or her mother.
To accomplish those goals, the mothers must participate in Judge Dwyer’s Drug Court Treatment Program. If they successfully complete the program, they are rewarded with dismissal of their criminal case, a chance to live drug-free and possibly the custody of their babies.
The mothers are screened by the program counselors to determine their fitness for the program and the level of treatment they require. Treatment ranges from residential treatment to intensive outpatient treatment. There are currently seven active defendants enrolled in the “Born Addicted” program.
“One of my goals for the Shelby County Drug Court has always been to supervise this population,” said Judge Tim Dwyer, General Sessions judge and founder of SCDC. “There is a strong need for this program and I am excited to have this opportunity.”
Like other participants in Shelby County Drug Court, these women must complete an eighteen month program of substance abuse counseling, monitoring and education. In addition, the women may be required to participate in services aimed at addressing the causes of their substance abuse. The program also offers participants life skills training, mental health counseling, parenting classes and job readiness training.
“From the moment Judge Dwyer and I first discussed this idea, it seemed like the right thing to do,” said Shelby County District Attorney Weirich. “We have the potential here to do so much more than just enforce the law.”
The Shelby County Drug Court has demonstrated success over the past fourteen years. Participants show lower recidivism rates than those defendants not enrolled in the program.
In 2001, The Shelby County Drug Court Foundation was created to lessen governmental burdens in matters relating to the Drug Court program. The Foundation works to secure funding and extend financial aid toward the operation and expansion of the Shelby County Drug Court and its programs.
For additional information on the Shelby County Drug Court and the Shelby County Drug Court Foundation, visit the Shelby County Drug Court Foundation website at http://shelbycountydrugcourt.org