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OP-ED: Kudos to York County treatment courts


"They wrote a blank check to the U.S. Government; the president may cash the check with their life anytime he chooses. As a nation, we owe them a path to recovery."

These somber statements were made by Judge Craig T. Trebilcock at the York County Treatment Courts graduation ceremony on Aug. 27, 2015. Four veterans joined 30 additional graduates in the emotional ceremony at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center on North George Street in York City.

Judge John Kennedy also addressed the standing-room-only crowd and congratulated the graduates, their families and friends. He acknowledged the dedication of the adult treatment court team, the District Attorney's Office, and the Sheriff's Department officers. This expert team of dedicated professionals operates nationally recognized drug, DUI, mental health and veterans treatment courts that combine intensive supervision with treatment and recovery services.

Each graduate was presented with a plaque and had the opportunity to speak to those present. Some of their thoughts:

"The treatment plan works if you work it."

"If you are struggling and need guidance, if your life is out of control, if you are broken ... this program is for you."

"... It provided an opportunity to succeed."

I congratulated and thanked both Judges Kennedy and Trebilcock for their professional and compassionate services. These two humble leaders are making positive changes possible for York County citizens who are "struggling and out of control."

The amazing thing about the treatment courts is that they are not only effective in terms of reducing crime and repeat offenders, but they are more cost-effective for taxpayers. The legacy justice approach of focusing on punishment and jail time costs taxpayers approximately $33,000 per year, per inmate. The result is frequently a convict with no job and very often a broken family who may have to resort to public assistance to survive.

In the drug treatment program, it costs roughly $11,000 per year, per person, to treat the individual who is engaged in improper behavior. The result: a successful, tax-paying member of the community and an independent, reunited family.

There is a waiting list to be accepted into York County's nationally recognized treatment courts.

We need the resources to expand these worthy treatment programs for our veterans and other community members. It makes "good cents" to devote dollars to this method of documented positive outcome treatment courts.

As the founder of the Byrnes Health Education Center and president of the York County Veterans Outreach, I applaud all who dedicate their time and talents to the York County Treatment Courts and congratulate the more than 200 graduates of this successful program.