Drug Court Judge Seeks Funding to Help More Mothers

Drug Court Judge Seeks Funding to Help More Mothers

A Memphis mother just gave birth to her fourth drug-addicted child. One Shelby County judge wants the cycle to end now, but he needs help.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A Memphis mother just gave birth to her fourth drug-addicted child. One Shelby County judge wants the cycle to end now, but he needs help.

Judge Tim Dwyer says the new drug court, specifically for mothers addicted to drugs, has been so successful he wants to expand the program.

The court for drug addicted mothers began in August 2011. The treatment program is a minimum of 18 months; the first woman will graduate this February. But, they're already seeing results.

According to Judge Dwyer, "Five children have been reunited with their mothers because of this."

Currently there are 13 mothers in the program, affecting 45 children. Judge Dwyer says many of the women are repeat offenders.

Prior to the drug court's existence, a baby born addicted to drugs would be removed from the home. "And they would go have another one - it was like a revolving door. They'd lose custody of the child, but nobody dealt with the drug problem," Dwyer said.

The special drug court pairs Judge Dwyer up with the District Attorney's Office, Juvenile Court and Memphis police. If a mother gives birth to a baby addicted to drugs, she's now charged with Reckless Endangerment. Her only options are jail time or the treatment program.

"Unfortunately when someone's addicted to drugs, the drugs were much more important in their life at that time then the child was," Dwyer said. "But once they deal with the drug problem they realize how much they want their child."

It costs $13 a day for each woman in the program. By the end of this year Judge Dwyer would like to expand the program to 30 women, but he needs more funding.

"It's a start. We've got a long way to go, but at least were doing something."

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