In Newton, offenders have a 10-member team working for them and meeting regularly, including Klein, prosecutors, defense lawyers, police officers, community treatment providers, Assistant Chief Probation Officer Richard Guzzi, and Probation Officer Rhonda Smith, who facilitates the drug court sessions.
“We’ve seen defendants coming before the court on a domestic assault and battery because they needed money and their family wouldn’t give them money for their drugs and it turned into an assault,” said Smith. “Their addiction has led them to reoffend.”
In addition to drug possession, other common crimes might be gun possession, breaking and entering, larceny, and theft, said Klein, first justice at Newton District Court.
Offenders might have violated their probation, said Klein, or they might have a pending case where disposition could be a suspended sentence and probation conditional on meeting the drug court’s requirements.
Newton’s drug court started with five candidates, and two had been accepted as of last week, said Klein. Those who aren’t accepted will probably go to jail, she said.
The program has to be a good fit for the offender and a safe solution for the public.
If they do well, they can reap rewards including reduced probation. If they use drugs or reoffend, they risk going to jail, she said.
“The first 18 months will be our most telling,” said Klein. “I’m hoping that we’re going to be able to help people be successful in their recovery, and not reoffend and not start using again.”