Nation’s First State-Wide Residential Recovery Court Set To Open In Northeast Tennessee

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) are opening the first state-wide residential Recovery Court in the nation, effective Aug. 1.

The court is located in the Morgan County city of Wartburg, which is about 45 miles west of Knoxville.

A special Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony will be at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 30, at 541 Wayne Cotton Morgan Drive, Wartburg, Tennessee 37887. Among those scheduled to be in attendance are Governor Bill Haslam, State Senator Ken Yager of Harriman, State Representative John Mark Windle of Livingston, and many others. 

The 100-bed program has been established to allow the state to divert people in need of substance abuse treatment or mental health services from hard prison beds to effective treatment programs that are evidence-based and proven to have a larger impact on reducing recidivism. It will also allow for prison beds to be reserved for those violent offenders who are in most need of them. 

This Recovery Court is different from the other Drug Courts and Recovery Courts currently in operation in that this one is more intensive than the current program and offers services on a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week basis. It will be operated by the Davidson County Drug Court Support Foundation, a private foundation. 

The Recovery Court will cost much less per person than an average prison: While prison costs an average of $65 per prisoner per day, the Recovery Court will cost an average of $35 per person per day. 

“While incarceration is expensive, this isn’t just about saving dollars,” says TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney. “It is about doing what is best for public safety.” 

Nationally, people who participate in evidence-based community programs that meet their needs recidivate at about one-third the rate of people who don’t. Alternative sentencing should be reserved for those offenders that are most in need. Drug offenders have been proven to have success in drug court programs that effectively address their needs. 

“This program should not be considered being soft on crime,” says TDOC Commissioner Derek Schofield. “What it says is that we’re going to place people in the best option to ensure they don’t re-offend. But also, we’re going to make sure we have a prison bed available for people who commit violent offenses that harm our communities.” 

TDMHSAS and TDOC are working on this project in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Davidson County Drug Court.


Widespread Flue Impacting Local Blood Supply

Non-profit regional blood center Blood Assurance is calling on healthy community members to make a blood donation at a local donor center or bloodmobile as soon as possible to help replenish the blood supply needed by area hospitals. The local blood supply is critically low due to high hospital usage and widespread flu affecting donors across the region. “To have a four to five ... (click for more)

Ronald McDonald House Launches Share-A-Night Campaign

RMHC of Greater Chattanooga launched their Share-A-Night campaign with one main premise: to walk in the shoes of a family with a sick child. The year-long campaign aims to encourage individuals to donate in increments of $66, which is what it costs the charity to host one family for one night; they host 26 families every day, costing $1,716 per night for housing alone.  ... (click for more)

St. Elmo Woman, 45, Dies At County Workhouse On Wednesday Night; Investigation Underway

An inmate died at the county workhouse at Silverdale on Wednesday night, and an investigation is underway.   She was identified as  Dana Shunice Palmer, 45, of St. Elmo.   Ms. Palmer was booked into the Hamilton County Jail from the Chattanooga Police Department on Feb. 14 on a public Intoxication charge. She was transferred from the jail to CoreCivic ... (click for more)

Shannon Whitfield Raising Rates At Money-Losing Walker County Landfill; Moratorium Placed On Fracking, Deep Well Drilling, Tiny Homes

New Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is raising rates at the money-losing Walker County Landfill. The higher charges go into effect on March 1. Mr. Whitfield, during his campaign, said the landfill had been losing about $500,000 per year for many years. He said other area landfills were making a profit, but Walker County was having to subsidize its landfill. ... (click for more)

CVB Should Share Financials With The Home Folks

The recent debate over the Convention and Visitor's Bureau's funding and budget has gotten ugly. A Hamilton County commissioner has asked questions and made comments about the CVB. The director of the CVB has organized a campaign to dismiss the commissioner's questions and comments. The children on the playground are choosing sides and nothing useful seems to be happening. It's ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Haggling Must Stop

Far be it for me to suggest the Hamilton County Commission and the School Board need to spend more time at recess but it was obvious this week the two groups need to work at being better friends. We have nine county commissioners and just as many corresponding school board members to work together for the betterment of one entity – Hamilton County. Everybody who thinks that is happening ... (click for more)