Drug court weighs criticism with success
For this four-part series, the News-Press interviewed judges, lawyers and participants involved with Buchanan County’s drug court to gauge whether NACDL’s criticisms are warranted at the local level. Dawn Williams served as an assistant prosecutor in Platte and Buchanan counties, as well as a public defender, before becoming a private defense attorney.
While she supports the drug court idea, Ms. Williams still credits much of NACDL’s criticism as fair. To start with, she said she believes requiring a guilty plea in return for admittance into the program unfairly punishes participants. The judges suspend the imposition of that sentence, but the guilty plea still can affect participants’ chances of attaining employment or financial aid. And prosecutors also can use that plea to enhance future charges.