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Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Guest: Judge Anthony Marabella

Show # 142

Judge Marabella of the 19th JDC explained the unique nature of the Baton Rouge Drug Court, the requirements of the court, and its impact on our community. Judge Marabella explained how he took over the drug court in 2002 after 30 years of legal practice. He explained how drug users commit 86 percent of crimes. Furthermore, of the 1,500 inmates held in parish prison, 1,300 are there for substance abuse. This creates the unique need which addressed in title 13 which creates the drug court for rehabilitative and correctional purposes.

Judge Marabella explained that the drug court has rigorous admittance conditions including no violent or sexual criminal history, a voluntary plea of guilty, and court acceptance after an interview. Typically enrollers are 2nd or 3rd time convicts and usually come recommended by the DA’s office.

Once admitted, enrollees are subjected to 3 hour daily classes, weekly random drug tests, mandatory employment, community service, and weekly appearances before Judge Marabella. If parole is broken, they are held to a high standard of repercussions. Furthermore, the earliest that completion of the program can occur is a year and a half

Judge Marabella lastly explained what the drug court provides in benefits. Firstly, upon graduation of the program, the charges are completely dropped from the enrollee’s records. Secondly the recidivism rate is 2.7%, which is a tremendously lower than the recidivism rate of normal parole . Monetarily, the program on average costs $4,800 per year per person versus the average $35,000 yearly prison cost per person. Judge Marabella explained that with such great statistics and savings, the main thing the drug court needs is continued funding.