When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, we’re going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.
In Roane County, Tenn., the legal and personal costs of the opioid epidemic collide at the county courthouse.
This piece was produced by Matt Shafer Powell and Jess Mador of Localore: Finding America, a national production of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio. Find more stories at NPR and at Finding America.
As an assistant to the local prosecutor, Charlene Hipsher helped launch a special “recovery court” with the goal of getting drug addicts into treatment instead of jail.
“Roane County is such a beautiful part of the country, with lush mountains and beautiful rivers,” Hipsher says. “But we do have a terrible problem here, and it’s opiate addiction.”
Hipsher says recovery court is “intensive supervision and treatment” that provides addicts an alternative to a jail cell and the opportunity to overcome their addiction. Her colleague Dennis Humphrey, general sessions court judge and recovery court judge, says they’ve found that more jail does not work.
“It does not remedy the problem,” he says, “but something in the nature of a drug court does get to the heart of their problem, try to remedy that, try to work with them, to show them that we do care about what’s happening.”