Treatment courts in Platte County are offering an important and effective alternative to traditional criminal punishments, according to county prosecutor Eric Zahnd.
Zahnd spoke at the Monday, July 15 meeting of the Platte County Commission, updating commissioners on the four treatment courts now in operation in Platte County. A DWI treatment court was established in 2012, Zahnd said, and has been successful, with very few program graduates re-offending. Of 115 graduates, only two have again been charged with DWI. Since, the county has established treatment courts for people dealing with mental illness, drug addiction and most recently a court for veterans. Judges Dennis Eckold and Quint Shafer oversee the treatment courts in addition to their regular duties.
Zahnd said the treatment courts help defendants to deal with the underlying problems that may have caused them to break the law.
“If we don’t do this, we see these people back in the system over and over again,” Zahnd said.
He has been approached by program graduates at public events, he said, and told the program helped save their lives.
“These treatment courts are an incredibly effective alternative to prison,” he said.
Commissioners expressed their support for the programs, with 1st District Commissioner Dagmar Wood stating she had attended a recent program graduation. She said she was impressed with the positive impact the program had on the participants and expressed hope that for some this could help break cycles of dysfunction in individuals and families.
Also at the meeting, commissioners approved a bid request for storm drainage improvements at Red Rock Acres and the Clemstone housing additions located east of Platte City off Highway 92. According to director of planning and zoning Daniel Erickson, the county will work with the Platte City Special Road District to address flooding issues in the housing additions. Erickson said three houses have been flooded repeatedly due to undersized culverts unable to handle storm water. Additionally, flooding cuts off emergency access to other areas of the subdivision. The homes were built in the 1970s and 1980s and the culverts installed are inadequate to handle flash floods.