Part 2 in two part series

Freiberg: Recovery Court offers chance

By BRIAN GRAVES

Posted 1/21/18

During his recent address to the Bradley County Republican Women, Criminal Court Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg addressed the “faceless enemy” of opioids.

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Part 2 in two part series

Freiberg: Recovery Court offers chance

Posted

During his recent address to the Bradley County Republican Women, Criminal Court Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg addressed the “faceless enemy” of opioids.

But, his address concluded with a message of how the judicial system is offering a chance for hope and renewal for those who have found themselves imprisoned, not only behind bars, but by the throws of drug addiction.

Freiberg, calling it “something very near and dear to my heart,” discussed the local Recovery Court program.

“That is an alternative to incarceration.  Before you stop listening, some people have the belief that this is just a slap on the hand,” Freiberg said. “I want to tell you that sometimes it’s not just a matter of getting tough on crime. Sometimes we have to get smart on crime.”

He emphasized the program is only for non-violent offenders.

“The people who we fear in our society do not get into rehabilitation programs. The people who harm others and people who commit violent offenses are not eligible for our Recovery Court program,” Freiberg said. “We are talking about addicts, non-violent offenders, and perhaps maybe property-related offenders.”

The judge explained the program is designed as an intensive, out-patient rehabilitation program.

“I see them each and every week on Tuesday afternoon no matter where I am serving the four counties in my judicial district,” he said. “I know where I am going to be any Tuesday afternoon — here in Bradley County meeting offenders one-on-one.”

Freiberg said the participants have to go to treatment three times a week. They have to do another day of “self-help." They visit him and a special probation officer who keeps taps on individuals.

“They also need to work full time,” he said. “I believe we would all be in a lot of trouble if we didn’t have responsibility in some place where we knew we had to be each and every single day. Idle hands run the devil’s workshop.”

He said if the offenders do not work, they are given community  full-time service.

“They work for free. Nothing motivates a person more to get paid for working than when they think they can scam the system and then they are told they are going to do three or four days of community service each and every single week until you are full-time employed,” Freiberg said. “Man, they find a way to get a job, don’t they?”

Freiberg said the program, which lasts 18 to 24 months, is showing an 80 percent success rate.

“That is amazing,” he added. “Nothing in our criminal justice center works 80 percent of the time. It truly is remarkable when you bring to bear all of the resources we have and keep tabs.”

The offenders are also drug-tested on a regular basis with urinalysis. They wear a narcotics patch. They also go through hair follicle tests which show everything that has been ingested into their system for the last 90 days.

“I tell them all of the time, ‘You want to lie? You’re just fooling yourself. You’re ruining a chance because you are not going to be fooling me. Eventually the truth will come out.’”

He said the program has also been shown to reduce the rate of recidivism.

“Sometimes the law demands for someone to go to the jail for six or nine months or to prison for 10 to 20 years,” Freiberg said. “There are very few crimes that carry a life sentence and the rate of re-offense is so high. When they are in this program, they get a little taste of what a better life might be. They get a taste of the pride of accomplishing something.”

He said the program when he entered office had a capacity of 30 people.

“We now have the capacity of 70. I’ve more than doubled it,” Freiberg said. “That is a huge difference. We honestly need more.”

He said Bradley County was only one of six communities in the country to be awarded funds to “grow and expand our Recovery Court program.”

“That was $758,000 that now exists here locally which started in October of 2016,” the judge noted. “It was a full, three-year grant. It was federal dollars and not an increase of any person’s taxes here locally. It was money you had already paid and it was going somewhere, so why not have government trickle it back here?” he asked.

Freiberg said the funds have allowed the addition of a Mental Court component to the program.

“There are individuals in our society who suffer from mental disease and defect, and when we don’t have an adequate network of mental health services, what happens is the jail becomes the de facto mental health facility,” he said. “For those who can be treated on an outpatient basis, it’s a very similar program where they are in treatment multiple times a week. They see me every other Tuesday.”

Freiberg said it's a program he is “very proud” to have brought to the area. 

“There are a lot of men and women who put the Recovery Court in place,” Freiberg said. “I’m just trying to carry on that tradition which others have built.”

“A real passion of mine is trying to be part of the solution, and to give my best as part of our Recovery Court program,” he said.

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