Salt Lake County’s new specialty drug court will operate the same as existing drug courts. What makes the new court different is the population it serves.
The drug court started taking clients this week who were arrested near the homeless shelter during Operation Rio Grande. The first group will go before a judge today.
Drug court provides defendants the option to go to treatment for at least a year instead of jail. They’re supervised and required to appear in court regularly to review their progress.
But this new crop of defendants? State Court Administrator Rick Schwermer says if they don’t have a place to live they’ll be less likely to follow court orders.
“You’re going to have a lot of folks who have less support than might other people in a drug court and who are going to have less other sort of resources that most people have like some sort of housing opportunity,” Schwermer says.
Schwermer says this will be a test for public agencies tasked with finding low-income housing options in a community with a severe housing shortage.