District Court Judge Susan Weaver and her picks for the new Sobriety Court team will be going for training in Minneapolis at the end of July. Weaver said the program should be up-and-running "as soon as possible" after they get back, probably by mid-August.
Sobriety Court is an alternative sentencing structure for repeat DWI offenders with serious drinking problems. Its goal is to keep them from driving drunk again.
"It’s a more vigorous sentence in that they have to go through intensive therapy and counseling," Weaver said. "They’ll have a probation officer to report to and a focus on rehabilitation. It’s a lot more than ‘spend a week in a jail and pay your fine.’"
Weaver’s jurisdiction covers Faulkner and Van Buren counties, and Sobriety Courts be set up in both counties.
For Faulkner County, the Sobriety Court team will include prosecutor Chuck Clawson (the Deputy City Attorney) and public defender Chris Tolleson. In Van Buren County the prosecutor will be Chad Brown out of Cody Hiland’s 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and public defender Nathan Morgan.
The team will also include Counseling Associates alcohol treatment personnel, a case coordinator and probation officers. Faulkner County has hired and deputized part-time probation officers who will also do some work as District Court security, Weaver said.