A new recovery option is opening in August for Tennessee’s drug-addicted criminals — a recovery court intended to treat substance abuse and free up prison space for violent offenders.
The Tennessee Department of Correction said the program is the nation’s first statewide residential recovery court, diverting offenders in need of substance abuse treatment from prison.
TDOC partnered with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to open the treatment center, which will be operated by the private Davidson County Drug Court Support Foundation.
The Morgan County facility opens in Wartburg, Tenn., on Aug. 1 and will offer services for up to 100 individuals needing mental health treatment, which is expected to reduce the number of repeat offenders.
“This program should not be considered being soft on crime,” said Derrick Schofield, TDOC commissioner. “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.
The recovery court is expected to cut prison expenses by costing nearly half as much per person than incarceration. According to TDOC, there are currently 3,378 drug offenders in the state system, which is 16 percent of the total state inmate population.