Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
June, 2014
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 Thurston County’s Specialty Courts Hit Milestone

Special event marks 15 years of Drug Court

Thurston County’s Therapeutic Courts were celebrated recently with the 15th anniversary of Drug Court. A benefit dinner was held at the Lacey Community Center to mark the achievement.

The event was sponsored by the The Strophy Foundation which is named in honor of retired Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Strophy. He was the presiding Drug Court judge from its start in 1998 until he retired in 2009. The non-profit foundation helps to provide funding for the specialty courts including Drug Court, DUI Court, Family Recovery Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veteran's Treatment Court.

Drug Court Administrator Ellen Goodman was recognized at the dinner, as was long time court supporter Dave Wilson. The owner of Dirty Dave’s Restaurant, who died recently, was honored posthumously for his efforts on behalf of Drug Court including providing jobs for some program participants. Goodman was hired as the administrator at the inception of the program and has guided it since. She was lauded as instrumental to the success of Drug Court including acquisition of much needed grant funding.

Over the past decade and a half Thurston County Drug Court has given non-violent felony offenders the chance to have their pending felony cases dismissed, provided that they stay sober and complete the program, which can take 18 months to complete.

Those who qualify for Drug Court must appear weekly to face the Drug Court judge, a prosecutor, defense attorney and Goodman, to gauge their progress. They are subject to random tests for drug or alcohol use. If they miss or fail any part of the program they can have their original charges reinstated and risk jail time or other penalties.

So far about 450 people have graduated from Thurston County Drug Court. Studies have shown that drug court graduates have about a 13 percent rate of re-offending. That compares with a rate of about 50 percent for inmates who have substance abuse issues who do not go through Drug Court.

Thurston County now has several other specialty courts including DUI court, Mental Health Court, Veteran's Court and Family Recovery Court. There is also a Juvenile Drug Court for young offenders.

In addition to the assistance these courts provide for offenders in overcoming substance abuse and other offender challenges, they also help hold down the jail population and save funding.

Those attending the dinner had high praise for all of the different types of support shown by those in the law and justice system, Thurston County Commissioners and others in the community who see the value of the specialty courts.

By John Tennis

Retired Judge Rick Strophy. Retired Judge Rick Strophy.

Ellen Goodman and Judge Strophy. Ellen Goodman and Judge Strophy.