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First-time offenders find second chance in drug court program

By Luke Jones
Published On: Jul 09 2014 07:54:15 PM CDT

Idaho is taking a new approach to drug use and mental health cases by introducing problem-solving courts aimed at helping addicts and others overcome their problems.

REXBURG, Idaho -

Idaho is taking a new approach to drug use and mental health cases by introducing problem-solving courts aimed at helping addicts and others overcome their problems.

"Problem-solving courts like drug court and mental health court are a departure from the adversarial model that we usually follow in court,” said Judge Gregory Moeller.

In just one year, a typical drug court program participant can complete the program and avoid prison time.

Randy Furniss ended his drug use six months ago when he began making bi-weekly court appearances as part of the program. Wednesday he reached a new milestone.

"I phased up to phase three, and there's four phases,” said Furniss.

As court wrapped up Wednesday, twice Grammy-nominated performer LT Smooth stopped by from New Zealand for a quick performance.

Smooth said he's grappled with many of the same problems facing those who appeared in court Wednesday.

"Out of this whole trip if I could change the life of one of 100, I'll take the one,” said Smooth.

"I realize that there's a better life than being in trouble all the time,” said Jerry Allen, a drug court participant.

Moeller said the those who participate in the program are less likely to re-offend than those who go to jail.

He said judges typically offer to program to first-time offenders.

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