New drug program hopes to help drug-addicted mothers, newborn - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New drug program hopes to help drug-addicted mothers, newborn

(WMC-TV) - The District Attorney's Office unveiled a new program Thursday to help drug-addicted parents get back on their feet.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said she is serious about helping drug-addicted mothers and their drug-addicted newborn.

"The real goal here is to make sure the mothers get off drugs," said Weirich.

"Born Addicted" is a new pilot program aimed at prosecuting mothers who use drugs while pregnant.  Instead if sending mothers to prison, the goal is to address the mother's drug addiction and reunite the newborn with his or her mother.

"We can send them out to the penal farm or the Tennessee Department of Corrections and they can do their time if that's what the sentence is," said Weirich.  "But with drug addiction, if we don't address the issue, they're going to be back."

Ora Boler was recently screened for the new program.

"I'd like to see her get the help while she's in custody," said Boler's boyfriend, Arthur Franklin.  "She needs to get the help that she needs."

Franklin is the father of two of Boler's six children.  He said their son was born with cocaine in his system.

This is the fourth time Boler has delivered a child with cocaine in its system.

"If this story can get out, there may be somebody else's kid won't have to go through what she's been through," said Franklin.

Mothers like Boler are screened by program counselors to determine their fitness for the program and the level of treatment they require.

"There will also be an emphasis on counseling to address the child custody issue, grief counseling to address feelings of shame and guilt or remorse, social reflections and communications skills, and parenting classes," said General Sessions Judge Tim Dwyer.

Mothers who successfully complete the program are rewarded dismissal of their criminal case, a chance to live drug-free and possibly the custody of their babies.

"Don't expect total success," said Dwyer.  "This is a hard population to treat.  This program began in August and we have seven participants and most are doing well."

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