Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 5, 2013

Greenup-Lewis Drug Court graduation Friday

Staff report
The Independent

GREENUP — The Greenup-Lewis Drug Court will celebrate National Drug Court Month with a graduation ceremony Friday for 11 participants who have completed the comprehensive drug treatment program. This will be the 11th graduation since the program began in 2002.

 The ceremony will be at noon at First United Methodist Church, 607 Main St., Greenup. Those invited to attend include law enforcement officers, elected officials, attorneys and representatives of drug treatment facilities.

 Circuit Judge Robert Conley, who volunteers his time to conduct drug court proceedings, will preside over the graduation ceremony. Erin Bohannon, program supervisor for the Bullitt County Drug Court program, will be the guest speaker.

 The National Association of Drug Court Professionals hosts National Drug Court Month each May. This year’s theme is “Drug Courts: A Proven Budget Solution.”

 “The uplifting graduation ceremony is evidence of the tremendous impact the Greenup-Lewis Drug Court has had on our community,” Conley said. “This will send a powerful message that drug court has a long-lasting, positive effect on the lives of participants and their families.”

 There are 47 in the Greenup-Lewis County program, which has graduated 192  since its inception. Andy Harris is the program supervisor, Moteika Roberts is the recovery coordinator and Arlene Hampton and Kevin Hilger are case specialists.

 In 2010, the National Drug Court Institute named Greenup-Lewis Drug Court as one of only 10 Mentor Adult Treatment Courts in the nation, a designation that will last for three years. Mentor courts help develop, identify and test national best practices for treating adult substance-abusing offenders through adult drug courts. They also serve as mentors for entities interested in starting an adult drug court and for existing programs that want to learn about the latest practices in addressing adult substance abuse. The NDCI is a branch of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which provides training and technical assistance to the drug court field.

 Drug court is administered through the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort, which oversees 55 adult drug court programs that serve 115 counties. Drug court is a division of the AOC’s Department of Statewide Services.

 The mission is to provide a treatment alternative closely supervised by the court that stops illicit drug use and related criminal activity and promotes a positive life change through substance abuse education and treatment.

 Drug court has proven to be a positive solution to a serious social problem. The success of drug court can be measured in the number of lives changed and the cost savings to Kentucky taxpayers. The program has had a significant impact on reducing rearrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates. It has also resulted in increased payment of delinquent child support and improved employment rates. For every $1 spent on drug court graduates, the state saves $2.72 on what it would have spent on incarcerating those individuals.

 Drug court coordinates the efforts of the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social services and treatment communities to intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction and crime.

 The program consists of three phases followed by aftercare. Drug court staff and participants work together to develop individual program plans with specific responsibilities and goals with timetables. Plans include group, family and individual counseling; frequent and random urine testing; education and vocational training; scheduled payments of restitution, child support and court fees; and health and community activities. Participants report directly to drug court judges, who reward progress and sanction noncompliance.

 When participants successfully complete the program, charges may be dismissed through diversion or conditional discharge may be granted through probation. Judges who participate in drug court volunteer their time to the program. Most of the program’s funding comes from state funds approved through the Kentucky General Assembly.