The Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved (8-0 vote) the award of $500,000 in federal grant funding to Hamilton County’s Drug Recovery Court. The approval follows the Department of Justice’s award of over $320 million in grant funding to combat America’s opioid crisis.
“I am extremely grateful that the Hamilton County Commission and Department of Justice recognized the success of our Criminal Drug Recovery Court over the past 13 years, and has voted to expand this life-changing and cost-saving program,” said General Sessions Judge Alex McVeagh, who will lead the expanded Sessions Recovery Court. “I am eager to fully implement and expand our Sessions Recovery Court – combating the opioid epidemic and helping addicts before they continue to commit crimes, while also vastly reducing costs to Hamilton County associated with incarceration and recidivism.”
The Department of Justice awarded the unprecedented amount of funding during October’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, with over $80 million specifically awarded to drug recovery courts across the country. Hamilton County’s Recovery Court was the sole jurisdiction in Tennessee to receive this particular grant from the Office of Justice Program’s (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
Hamilton County’s Drug Recovery Court began in 2005 under the leadership of retired Judge Rebecca Stern and Drug Court Coordinator Dr. Elaine Kelly. Judge Tom Greenholtz took the reins of the Court in 2015, and boasts recidivism rates of only 7% in the years following a participant’s successful completion of the program. His program currently serves repeat felony non-violent drug offenders.
“Working with Judges Greenholtz and Stern in Drug Recovery Court over the years has proven that addicts can recover. With judicial supervision, structure and accountability, lives are changing, families are being reunited, and crime in our community is being reduced,” said Dr. Kelly. “Expanding this program into Sessions Court under the leadership of Judge McVeagh allows us to serve individuals who suffer from addiction before they become repeat felony offenders, as well as their families, and will improve their potential for success in our community. I am personally grateful for the support of the Commissioners, Judge McVeagh and Judge Greenholtz.”
More information about the Department of Justice’s recent grant awards and its efforts to combat America’s opioid crisis can be found here.