Special Legislative Session in MO Could Expand Treatment Courts;Computer Science Credits

Special Legislative Session in MO Could Expand Treatment Courts;Computer Science Credits
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Missouri lawmakers will go into a special session next week and the Governor is urging them to expand use of treatment courts.
They ‘ ve been successful in Jasper County.

Just ask Justin Cozart. On Wednesday he cooked up some oatmeal after a twelve hour shift at work while talking to KOAM. It ‘ s different kind of life for him after graduating from Jasper County Veteran ‘ s Treatment Court.

Cozart explained, “It ‘ s given me a new opportunity at life. I ‘ m a completely different person. I went from wheeling, dealing, running gun to helping other addicts and alcoholic out.”

Governor Mike Parson wants every county to have a treatment court. And those that can ‘ t support one of their own, could get services at one nearby. Treatment courts exist in Barton, Newton, McDonald and Lawrence counties in Southwest Missouri and they already work well together.

Matt Ouren, Jasper County ‘ s Court Services Officers said, “If we have somebody who’s a Jasper County resident but has a charge in another county, a lot of times we’re able to work together to make sure to get that individual treatment in the appropriate county where they live.”

Besides veterans court, there are drug and alcohol and mental health treatment programs in Jasper county. Ouren and the court administrator hope the governor will also expand funding to serve more.

Court Administrator Erik Theis said, “Right now we have approximately one hundred people in our program, however there ‘ s also a waiting list cause we just don ‘ t have the capacity to take on the need.”

Ouren added funded would help , “Not just recovery supports, it ‘ s the law side too. Like, such as electronic monitoring, things we can do to ensure the communities safe as well.”

Theis said treatment courts not only work well here, they reduce the recidivism rate. He explained, “The recidivism rate is around twenty percent. Now compare that to statistics from Department of Corrections, individuals that go in to the prison system and come out, the recidivism rate there is forty percent. So, we almost cut the recidivism rate in half.”
For Cozart another reward of his treatment court success was a renewed relationship with his young daughter. He admits he was more focused on drugs during her first five years. But that ‘ s changed.
Cozart said, “I’ve been seeing her two and half years now since I ‘ ve been clean and sober. She just called me Dad for the first time two weeks ago.It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Treatment court statistics show in Jasper County Missouri that fifty defendants were admitted into treatment court programs with a graduation rate for DWI court of 81% and for veterans court it is 100%. Treatment court participants completed more than 7,118 hours of community service.

Governor Parson also wants the special session that begins September 10 th , to look at allowing computer science classes for high school to qualify as academic credits.
Right now Joplin students at Franklin Technology Center only get an elective credit for the one hour computer science class.
But they can earn a half math credit for a three-hour session. While administrators say developing the curriculum could be tricky, instructors say there’s plenty of math taught in computer classes.

Steven Bradfield who teachers computer information systems said math is applied, “Through voltage, through length, angles and everything like that for cameras, security systems and now that IT information is getting so much better, there’s sub math so there’s tons of ones and zeros that add together and are changed to decimal numbers. So, they do a whole lot of different types of math.”

Bradfield admits determining test curriculum for math and science principals that are regularly applied in the class could be a challenge. But he also says the students should also qualify in some cases for dual credit, as they earn certifications that some college students can’t even pass.