A judge and a San Antonio city councilmember, who is also a survivor of family violence, have teamed up to find the money to fund a drug court that will be the first of its kind in Texas. It’s part of an overall effort to make San Antonio a less violent place for women.
Bexar County Court Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez is trying to come up with $1 million to fight family violence. Her plan is to intervene when people charged with crimes related to illegal substance abuse and domestic violence end up in her courtroom.
“It creates a pathway for a drug court to be created within domestic violence court,” Gonzalez said at a news conference outside the Bexar County Courthouse on Saturday.
The state Legislature cleared the way for this when it unanimously approved a pilot program for a hybrid domestic violence and drug court in Bexar County during the last legislative session, but it didn’t set aside any money for it.
“The governor signed our bill into law, but the message was clear: it’s a local problem, get some local funding,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is looking for grant money, support from local agencies and support from individuals. She said she’ll take money from anyone, really.
“I don’t care if I have to sell barbecue plates. We’re going to get this court funded eventually.” Gonzalez said.
City Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan will pitch the city for support for the court. It’s personal to her. She’s a domestic violence survivor and said substance abuse made her situation so much worse. Her abuser was her late husband. He ultimately died suicide in her presence, she said, but she remembers the young man who had been so full of promise. She wishes he had access to resources that might have saved him.
“So now I’ve decided to use my voice to help people live instead of break them or bring them down,” Andrews-Sullivan said.
That’s why she’s joined up with Gonzalez to try to get the Domestic Violence Therapeutic Program off the ground.
“Today what we’re doing is making our community aware that we as a city, we as a county, and we as a state recognize we have a severe problem and we’re looking to do whatever we can to tackle it,” Andrews-Sullivan said.
According to a report commissioned by San Antonio City Council and released this spring, the number of women murdered by a male intimate partner in San Antonio tripled between 2012 and 2017.