Twenty delegates from South Korea will tour Pierce County’s Felony Drug Court from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, to learn more about the local system for dealing with drug offenders.
Pierce County’s Felony Drug Court program started in 1994 and is the second-largest drug court in Washington State. Eligible defendants who choose to enter the program waive their right to a speedy trial and trial by jury and agree to complete a rigorous program of treatment and court monitoring for at least a year.
“Drug court is one of the most effective, alternate methods of dealing with these types of offenders,” said Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Larkin, Department 3, who is currently presiding over drug court. “I’m pleased to see that Pierce County’s program has been so successful that it’s being considered as a model for international interested parties.”
The South Korean group, which includes an interpreter and two staffers with the Asian-American Chemical Dependency Treatment Services (ACTS), will observe the judicial process of the Pierce County drug court and how it deals with drug- and alcohol-related crimes.
“Their purpose is to influence Korean government policy that affects drug, alcohol and mental health crimes,” said Tae Son Lee, Executive Director of ACTS. “Currently, the Korean court system addresses drug-related crimes without any treatment recommendations. As a result, drug and alcohol offenders have a high rate of reoffending because their addictions are left to run rampant.”
Lee added that the delegates are specifically interested in learning the trial, the methods of judgment and sentencing, the various types of sentences available, and overall treatment costs.
The primary goal of the Pierce County Felony Drug Court is to lower the number of reoffending felons by offering a minimum 12-month treatment for nonviolent, drug- addicted defendants as an alternative to jail. Pierce County Drug Court has successfully graduated over 1,700 participants who have gone on to live healthy and crime free lives.
Pam Clouser, Felony Drug Court Coordinator
Pierce County Superior Court
Tae Son Lee, Executive Director
Asian American Chemical Dependency Treatment Services