Robertson County aims to address source of most crime: drugs

(Photo: WKRN)

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (WKRN) – In a county of nearly 70,000 people, the sole General Sessions judge in Robertson hears everything.

Unfortunately, a lot of times, the same names are being called into Honorable Judge Joel Perry’s courtroom.

Like any other county, a rise in population is also bringing a larger number of crimes, and Judge Perry says more than three fourths of the crimes are fueled by drugs or alcohol.

“If you don’t treat the underlying causes of why they are committing crimes, then you are just going to see them back,” he told News 2.

During the day, the judge hears misdemeanor charges, but at night, he is helping kick addictions.

“These aren’t just numbers, or inmates, or convicts, they are people,” said Perry.

Photo: WKRN

That is why he sentences some people to a drug-appointed recovery program, which is similar to the ones in Davidson and other neighboring counties.

“It is cheaper for someone to be in recovery court than the 55 dollars a day it cost them to spend in jail,” Judge Perry explained.

The program director says opiates are big, but the cost of that is driving people to use heroin more often.

Right now, there are 38 people in the treatment program, which aims to teach people important life skills.

“We get them out, send them to treatment, they get a job,” said Clint Primm.

Primm says the national graduation rate is about 50 percent. In Robertson County, they average is close to 75 percent.

“They come to us totally broken, incarcerated, and we get to watch them grow,” he told News 2.

Judge Perry says the program is not a walk in the park, and a lot of people put their time and money into making it work.

“We see them every two weeks. Like I said, they are drug tested regularly, they are reporting to a probation officer, they are in a class.”

In the long run, it can help make Robertson County a lot safer.

“If we can change behaviors than the people that we are able to help, they are not out stealing from local stores or breaking into homes,” the judge said.

The program can last anywhere between three months to a year. In the first few months, the person may spend time in an in-patient treatment facility. After that, they are required to take weekly drug tests, report to a class every two weeks, and visit a probation officer.