published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Management of Tennessee drug courts moving to new department

NASHVILLE — Management and oversight of state drug court programs across Tennessee will be moved to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The move, beginning July 1, came under an executive order announced today by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Haslam said his Executive Order No. 12, which transfers management from the Department of Finance and Administration to Mental Health, is part of his administration’s ongoing effort to boost government “efficiency and effectiveness.”

“Management and oversight of Tennessee’s drug court programs are consistent with the focus of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and we believe it makes more sense for the department to manage these programs,” Haslam said in a news release.

Drug courts were created to provide an alternative to jail and prison and are intended to help people arrested for drug-related crimes deal with their addictions. Hamilton County is one of dozens of counties and cities with a drug court.

The Haslam administration said in its news release that for many of these arrested, “prison is not the answer, and research has shown treatment costs are lower than costs association with incarceration.”

 The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services already oversees licensing and funding for Tennesseans unable to pay for substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. Because of that, Haslam said, “we believe it makes more sense for the department to manage these programs.”

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