BATON ROUGE – More activity with the state's drug courts and district attorneys' offices is what Louisiana Association of Drug Court Professionals' (LADCP) new president is hoping for in his two-year term.
"My main goal is to encourage more participation in drug courts throughout the state and to have more participation with the district attorneys' offices since the D.A. is considered the gatekeeper under the Drug Court Statute," new LADCP President Thad Toups told the Louisiana Record. "We hope to continue to bring quality education concerning best practices and current trends in drug court training, treatment and philosophy."
Toups, a Thibodaux attorney, was worn in earlier this month during a ceremony in which Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John Weimer administered the oath of office.
Toups helped establish Lafourche Parish's drug court team in 1999 and has served as an "integral member" since, according to a press release issued by the high court.
“In addition to being a respected Assistant District Attorney in Lafourche Parish, Thad Toups is recognized nationally and locally as a leader in substance abuse education, prevention and treatment," Weimer was quoted as saying in the press release. "In 2011 he received the National DWI Court Leadership Award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and he is a founding member of the LADCP.”
Weimer also mentioned that Toups is a respected assistant district attorney in Lafourche Parish "who is recognized nationally and locally as a leader in substance abuse education, prevention and treatment."
LADCP is a statewide organization that partners with the Louisiana Supreme Court's Drug Court Office to provide training opportunities for drug court personnel, and to promote and encourage the use of best practices in drug courts.
"The drug court model has been a dynamic one and has evolved throughout the years with evidence-based philosophies," Toups told the Louisiana Record. "Some of the challenges are based on this changing treatment philosophy. The LADCP partners with the Supreme Court Drug Court office to present educational programs to our members."
There are worrisome days ahead, particularly with an eye toward the LADCP's usual sources of funding, Toups said.
"We have always received strong support from the legislature and the Supreme Court," he said. "With the budget crisis, this may be affected, but the Drug Court Program has proven to be a cost saver throughout the years so hopefully there will be no change."
A founding member of LADCP, Toups received his undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University in 1973 and his law degree from Louisiana State University Law School in 1976. For more than 32 years, Toups has been an assistant district attorney in Lafourche Parish and the 17th Judicial District, prosecuting a quarter of all criminal cases in Lafourche Parish from 1983 to 2000. Toups also headed drug education and prevention programs at the district attorney's Office.
Currently 50 drug court programs operate in 42 parishes under the auspices of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Of these, all but two have been in operation for a decade or more.