Commissioners approve resolution supporting DWI/Drug Court grant

Williamson County commissioners approved a resolution May 6 to support a grant request made by County Court at Law No. 2 to continue its DWI/Drug Court for a ninth year.

The court is a yearlong program that works with repeat DWI and drug offenders and consists of local criminal justice resources and substance-abuse treatment to rehabilitate repeat misdemeanor offenders rather than incarcerate them.

Participants are referred to the program and are reviewed by the court's team, which includes an assigned judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, representatives of the adult probation department and treatment providers.

Adult Probation Coordinator Steve Morrison said the specialty court has been effective. Since it began, the program has had 253 participants graduate, and of those, 93 percent have been successful in staying out of court, Morrison said.

"The program is making a big impact on DWI recidivism," Morrison said.

According to a study of the DWI/Drug Court by Sam Houston State University, participants who graduate from the program have a 2.5 percent recidivism rate compared with those who did not graduate, who have a 22.7 percent recidivism rate.

"With having—many, many years ago in my past—worked at the parole board, that kind of recidivism rate is phenomenal," County Commissioner Cynthia Long said.