“I have hundreds of success stories, but two in particular stand out to me. Both of these individuals were addicts, they went through the drug court program, and both of them work for me now, one as a drug counselor and the other as a secretary. They went from one extreme to the other.
“The ‘Born Addicted’ program is part of drug court too. There are a lot of people who are against it, but I think they have a misconception. They seem to think we’re taking these ladies and throwing them in prison for having a drug-addicted baby, but what we’re doing is charging them with a misdemeanor and giving them the opportunity to go into treatment. They need help. Have you ever seen a baby born dead because of the drugs in its system, or going through withdrawals when it’s born? It’s a terrible thing. If the ladies don’t get help, they’re going to go right back out and have another drug-affected baby. We originally had this program going, but then the legislature changed the law and said that we couldn’t do it. At the time, I had 13 ladies who were in the program and doing well, and I had to tell them, ‘I have to dismiss your case because the law has changed.’ It was the first time in all my years on the bench that I had ladies begging me NOT to dismiss their case. They said, ‘This is the only way I’m going to be able to stay off of drugs and raise my child!’ It killed me. I still made arrangements for them to continue getting treatment, but most of them, without the drug court, without that hammer over their heads, ended up going back to their addictions. It was sad. The program is active again now, but the law's up for reconsideration before the legislature this summer. I just hope and pray it stays in place.
“I’ve been a judge for 32 years, and this is my 19th year with drug court. I still wake up every morning fired up. I really enjoy being in a position to try to help save people’s lives. And it’s not just me. It’s my team. We all work together.”
FB: Shelby County Drug Court Foundation
Articles about Shelby County Drug Court:
- Judge shares personal stories behind Drug Court (WMC Action News 5, November 2015)
- Drug Court Pays Big Community Dividends (Memphis Fast Forward, July 2013)
- Safe in Memphis: Justice and mercy in drug court (The Commercial Appeal, May 2013)
- D.A.’s Office and Shelby County Drug Court Announce First Graduate of “Born Addicted” Treatment Program (Shelby County D.A.'s Office, February 2013)
- Dwyer Users Drug Court to Help Offenders Reform (Memphis Daily News, January 2006)
Judge Tim Dwyer, General Sessions Division 8, Shelby County Drug Court
201 Poplar, Suite LL-56