Joseph M. Tyree
Joe Tyree
Joseph M. Tyree
'Drug Courts offer a second chance'

March 21, 2017

Joe Tyree talked about the drug addiction crisis as he spoke with Putnam Rotary today.

After an Air Force tour in southeast Asia and 21 years with the Department of Public Safety, the former state trooper retired to serve as Municipal Judge for Eleanor and Winfield. He has also served as Juvenile Justice Coordinator for the the Prosecutor's Office.

Tyree endorses the Drug Court program as one answer to the drug epidemic in the area. The Drug Court began four years ago in Putnam County, and the Legislature required the program in every judicial circuit in the state.

"The Adult Drug Court is the largest and most successful diversion program that we have going on for drug offenders," Judge Joseph Reeder had told Rotarians last January.

"About ninety percent of the people we deal with in the criminal system in Putnam County," he said, "their case in one way or another is related to drugs."

But the state is in financial straits, and some public services are on the chopping block.

"I read in the paper they may not continue to mandate [the Drug Court]," Joe Tyree said today.

"The three things hardest to do," he said, "to get people to come to work, to get them to come to work on time, and to get them to come to work clean [from drugs].

"But if you will give our clients [in the Drug Court] an opportunity," he continued, "they will be there. They will be there on time, and they will be clean.

"As they go through the program, they become more conscientious, they become good workers, and you are helping them to turn their life around.

"But in many cases, he said, "We're not talking about hardened criminals. We're talking about young men and women who say, 'I did this at 13, and this at 15 -- and then I got hooked.'

"And then they run into the police. . . . And then they go to court. And the court says, 'You've got an opportunity. You can go here [to Drug Court] or you can go there [to jail].."

Rehabilitation is an opportunity of promise. "What would you rather have?" Tyree asked. "Would you rather have people breaking into your car, into your home? Would you pay to keep them in jail? Or would you rather have them working?"

Keep the Drug Court rahabilitation program in Putnam, he urged. The victims of the drug epidemic, "They're getting a fresh start. And some of them, that's all they need."

      Rotarian Cyndee Adkins has prepared a video of the program today. To access the video, click HERE!     

More Putnam Rotary News? Click HERE.