A diagnosed schizophrenic who admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine is going to prison because he couldn’t beat his addiction.
Jade Prall, 37, of Schenectady, got a chance last year when he was caught stealing a television. Instead of going to jail, he joined the alternative treatment program, in which he had regular meetings with Judge Karen Drago while getting treatment to stop using crack. The program is generally known as Drug Court.
If all had gone well, he would have eventually applied for internships and moved on to a job before graduating from the program. A group of successful residents are graduating this week, and many others have appeared before Drago to report that they have had steady progress.
But every member of the program knows that if they slip up, they could be sent directly to jail to serve the sentence they would have gotten if not for Drug Court.
The six-month jail sentence hanging over Prall’s head wasn’t enough to deter him.
On Sept. 8, he tried to pry open a door with a plastic card to rob an apartment, he admitted Wednesday. He was trying to break into another apartment in his own apartment building at 1007 Union St.
In court, Drago sentenced Prall to his original six months behind bars, plus one to three years in prison for the attempted burglary.
She said the break-in was a violent crime.
“That was the impetus for terminating him from the alternative treatment program,” she said.
Drago meets with the Drug Court participants regularly, with once-a-month meetings for those who are doing well, and weekly meetings for those who need more supervision.
For those who slip up, she offers strict lectures and, on occasion, jail time. But for those who stick with the hard task of breaking an addiction, she offers encouragement.
Last week, the judge praised one participant for staying off drugs despite a family crisis that might have pushed her back to the comfort of her addiction.
She questioned the woman closely as to whether she thought she would be able to get through the holidays. When she got a shrug for an answer, she told probation officers to design an emergency plan that the woman could follow if she felt the urge to do drugs again.
There were no more chances for Prall.