DA asks for drug court support

Published 12:05 am Friday, September 27, 2013

Give ‘em a chance – that was the request to the county commission by District Attorney Walt Merrell Thursday on hiring drug court participants for county jobs.

Drug court participants are those who are generally first-time drug offenders, Merrell said.

“These are not career criminals,” he said. “The are people, that for whatever reason, made a bad choice. Drug Court is designed to take these people and restore them to their proper place in society. They are closely monitored, and there is no better accountability program than what drug court has to offer.”

Merrell said drug court participants – which there are currently 74 enrolled – are drug tested at least once a week and are monitored by court employees.

“I realize the risk to take someone into their employment who has demonstrated poor decision-making in the past,” he said. “I want (the commission) to look at it as motivation to themselves and their family to right the ship, so to speak.”

Merrell asked the commission to not show favoritism to drug court clients who apply for a county job.

“Instead, I’m asking that you don’t let drug court be a deterrent if they are the best candidate for the job,” he said.

Merrell said if the commission would apply the practice, other businesses might follow.

“We’re looking for a leader, someone to step up, and we think the county could be it,” he said.