It is believed by many that the people of Cook County need more compassionate judges on the bench like Charles Burns. Judge Charles Burns has been responsible for running the drug court program at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for more than a decade. In many ways, he has served as a human crutch and cheerleader to defendants struggling with substance abuse. With the Rehabilitative Alternative Probation initiative or RAP, Charles Burns and his team help the participants to navigate their road to recovery. These programs also help the participants to connect with much needed housing and job opportunities.
Judge Charles Burns talks about the RAP program and its benefits
Judges like Charles Burns are not only objective and faithful to the rule of law, but they also make decisions while maintaining a compassionate perspective. In fact, this veteran judge is so dedicated that he gives his mobile phone number to the graduates of the RAP program, in order to continue to lend a sympathetic ear. If there are more judges like Burns in the Cook County who can oversee more programs aimed at dealing with the root cause of a large number of crimes, then the county would become a lot safer in general.
The program provides accountability, services and support to help participants in readjusting to the community as a sober and responsible individual. The RAP program has established community partnerships to assist participants with a range of important tasks, including locating and obtaining interim and long-term housing, as well as furnishing the newly obtained housing. The RAP program participants are also provided with the needed career employment and financial credit services, along with mental health counseling and trauma informed treatment.
The participants of the Rehabilitative Alternative Probation Initiative or RAP basically are provided given probation in exchange for a guilty plea to a felony drug charge. However, these individuals might still end up in prison in case they fall short of the requirements for graduating the program. This program has been in existence for decades, and not all the participants graduate. A few relapse, and some of them go on to committing more crimes or end up dead. However, the overall success rate of the program is impressive. 85% of 2019 and 2020 RAP graduates are employed, and it is the successes that keep Charles Burns motivated to lead the program. In fact, the high success rate must be a strong incentive for public officials to expand drug court initiatives like RAP.
The kind of dedication, commitment and enthusiasm Judge Charles Burns has for the RAP program is needed throughout the country, as drug related deaths keep increasing in many parts of the United States. During a 12 month period that ended in April 2021, there were 100,306 deadly drug overdoses in the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This marked a 28.5% increase from the 78,056 drug overdose deaths during the same time period from the year before.
Drug courts play a vital role in diverting individuals with substance use disorders from the criminal justice system. These courts focus more on problem solving instead of punishment. For many individuals, drug court programs can end up being a life-saving solution. These programs often act as a salve for the larger community. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals has concluded that drug courts that focus their efforts on high-risk/high-need offenders can reduce crime approximately twice as much as the ones serving less serious offenders and return approximately 50% greater cost savings to their communities.