Bexar County is seeing the emergence of more specialty courts that target specific populations and offer offenders a rehabilitative path forward.
The goal of specialty courts is to ultimately reduce recidivism rates by doing more than issuing blanket justice for certain unlawful behaviors.
Instead of locking people up and throwing away the key, specialty courts look to provide offenders with a plan for treatment. Participants spend time with a team of professionals that provide the necessary tools and skills to treat underlying issues such as drug addiction and mental health.
Bexar County's first specialty court was created in 2001. Since then, specialty courts have been added to focus on specific types of offenses related to drugs, domestic and family violence, mental health, prostitution and driving drunk. Other courts focus on veteran offenders, specifically.
How many specialty courts exist in Bexar County and what are their areas of focus? How many people have been through the programs?
How effective are specialty courts? Have they reduced the county's rates of incarceration and recidivism? How else is success measured? Is this a cost-effective approach?
What unique challenges and opportunities exist for specialty courts in Bexar County?
Upcoming educational seminars will be held by the Bexar County Specialty Courts Coalition to answer questions and provide an overview of the program including, benefits, eligibility and the referral process.
- Judge Yolanda Huff, County Court of Law No. 12 and Mental Health Court; founded the Bexar County Specialty Courts Coalition
- Judge Rosie Speedlin-Gonzalez, County Court No. 13 and Domestic Violence Specialty Court
- Judge Ernie Glenn, Felony Drug Court
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, January 8.