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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Judge Dally Announces Formation of NorCo Drug Court

Judge Craig Dally
It's rare to hear a judge admit that, once the black robes are stripped away, he is as fallible as the rest of us. Yet that's precisely what Judge Craig Dally did yesterday. He provided Northampton County Council with an overview of problem-solving courts throughout Pennsylvania, including Northampton County. "We can do a better job than what we're doing today," he admitted.

Dally announced the establishment of a Drug Court in Northampton County, starting April 2. It's just in time, too because County Council voted to defund its treatment program at the jail this year. This will be a problem-solving court, very much like the Mental Health Court announced by District Attorney John Morganelli late last year. But there's a key difference. A Mental Health Court is a diversionary court in which charges can be dismissed without a conviction. The Drug Court, however, will apply to people who have already been convicted.

The Drug Court

Pennsylvania currently has 101 problem solving courts , with 17 in the planning stages. They cover domestic violence, veterans' issues, mental health, drugs prostitution and drunk driving. Their focus is something Judge Dally calls "restorative justice." Instead of focusing on the crime, the emphasis is placed on individual outcomes. The ultimate goal is to protect public health and safety, reduce the prison population and rate of re-entry, resulting in a more efficient use of tax dollars. It is limited to non-violent offenders who suffer from addiction.

Initially, participants in this program will be in court every week. During these periodic and nonadversarial reinforcement hearings, a judge might hand out a gift certificate to a restaurant instead of a jail sentence.

How does this help the county? According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the rate of re-entry, or recidivism, is only 27% for someone who has been graduated from a Drug Court. That compares to an average of between 60-80%. Based on an average sentence of six months, the County will save $16,200 per participant.

Judge Dally anticipates 25 participants at the onset, but the Court should become much larger. Court Administrator Jill Cicero stated that most of the parole and probation violators in jail are there because of drugs. Judge Dally added that many people with offenses like forgery or theft are committing those crimes because "their underlying issue is still drug addiction." Those offenders will be eligible for participation.

Hayden Phillips asked why this Court is unavailable for pre-conviction offenders. "You'll have to ask the District Attorney," responded Judge Dally, who indicated that the courts are open to participation by pre-conviction drug offenders. "We'll see how this goes," Judge Dally stated. "Perhaps the District Attorney will have a change of heart.

"This could mushroom very, very quickly," worried Glenn Geissinger. "We could be the victims of our own success," agreed Judge Dally. But he added that the Courts, as the gatekeepers of the program, can control the size.

Mental Health Court

Unlike the Drug Court, the Mental Health Court is similar to ARD, the program for first-time offenders who have charges dismissed after successful completion of a period of probation. The Mental Health Court requires that there be a direct correlation between a diagnosed mental illness and the criminal activity. According to Judge Dally, there is just one person in this program at this time.

Judge dally explained that both of these problem solving courts will exist only for those who seek it. "You can't be successfully treated unless you want to be treated," concluded Judge Dally.


Anonymous said...

A good idea from a great guy and a great Judge.

Anonymous said...

Why are we wasting our time and money on this scum

Anonymous said...

Don't trust Joker Dally for anything!
Pure scum!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sez someone Dally probably sent away, or worse, a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

About time the county did this. It makes too much sense not to do it. Benefits users and the tax payers. Non violent people do not need to be imprisoned. It is a waste of money to incarcerate those who only harm themselves. After this..clean up domestics court...another waste of money and destroyer of peoples lives. Stop throwing people in jail for child support issues. help them find jobs and work with them outside the jail.

Anonymous said...

Does this new Drug court plan on offering classes in the Jail?? Are they going to teach the inmates how to change their thought process's? Will it offer re-entry tools to use so the individuals won't re-offend?? I don't forsee this working unless it plans on going into the Jail to address the root problem which is changing the inmates core habits and showing them new ways to deal with lifes trials and tribulations.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tis Drug Court will be post-conviction, but so far as I know, will not be treating people who are incarcerated.

Anonymous said...

Judge Dally
The fucktart of Norco.

Bernie O'Hare said...

These likely comes from Mezzacappa because he found her guilty of harassment and gave her the maximum fine.

Anonymous said...

It is the alternative to incarceration and hopefully this will gain traction here in NH county..finally. Time to enter the 21 st century of humane criminal justice practices.

Anonymous said...

They had this type of treatment in the jail and it was a huge failure with most of the participants re offending by violating parole or c omitting new crimes that is why it was discontinued because it did not work and was costing the tax payers over 750,000.00 a year. Remember someone who doesn't want to change won't change. A criminal is a criminal is a criminal is a criminal

With Hold said...

Establishment of Drug Court will bring swift outcomes to complicated cases on individual basis. My cousin know someone who had a DUI case and planning to hire a Los Angeles DUI attorney. I told him to ask them about any positive or negative experiences they had with that DUI lawyer?