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Bexar County Specialty Courts Apply Rehabilitative Justice To Reduce Recidivism

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Photo from Pxhere CC0: http://bit.ly/35suY9K

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.

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Understanding Specialty Courts presented by the Bexar County Specialty Courts Coalition. Hosted by Judge Yolanda Huff County Court of Law No. 12 and Mental Health Court.

Guests:

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, January 8.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.