FRANKFORT, Ky., Dec. 14, 2004 ¾ Individuals facing drug-related charges in McCracken County will soon have access to a court designed specifically to address this issue.
Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence announced today at a joint news conference that Drug Court would be implemented in McCracken County. The news conference took place in the Circuit Courtroom of the McCracken County Courthouse in Paducah before a crowd of judges, law enforcement officers, attorneys and community leaders.
McCracken County Drug Court is expected to be operational in April 2005.
"Drug Court is a shining example of Kentucky's success in specialty courts," said Chief Justice Lambert, who is a strong proponent of the concept. "Instead of spending time in jail, Drug Court participants complete a rigorous substance abuse program supervised by a judge who sanctions noncompliance. The program lets individuals return to productive lives where they can maintain employment, pay child support and meet other family obligations. Kentucky's war on drug abuse gains new momentum every time we secure new funding for Drug Court. We appreciate Gov. Fletcher and Lt. Gov. Pence for supporting state funding that is helping to maintain and expand Drug Court statewide."
"Substance abuse in Kentucky has reached epidemic proportions, and we will not be able to incarcerate our way out of this problem," said Lieutenant Governor Pence. "Drug Court is a positive, common-sense approach for sentencing nonviolent drug offenders who need treatment rather than incarceration. Chief Justice Lambert has provided the leadership and dedication needed to tackle this problem. The Office of Drug Control Policy looks forward to working with Chief Justice Lambert and the Administrative Office of the Courts on this important initiative."
"Drug Court is making such a difference for our citizens who are abusing drugs and for Kentucky communities, so it is exciting that we are adding this valuable resource to McCracken County," said Sylvia Lovely, interim executive director of the state's Office of Drug Control Policy. "This is another block in building more substance abuse treatment opportunities in this state, and that is vital to better addressing and reducing the drug problem."
How Drug Court Works
Drug Court provides a sentencing alternative that addresses the high relapse rates in nonviolent, drug-related cases. The mission is to create a criminal justice environment that stops illicit drug use and related criminal activity. The concept promotes recovery through substance abuse education and treatment, with participants taking one to two years to complete the program's three phases before they begin aftercare.
Drug Court targets adult and juvenile participants who have criminal charges pending, meet program criteria and are willing to enter the program by choice. A board consisting of the judge, public defender, local prosecutor, law enforcement, treatment provider and Drug Court Staff reviews each case prior to the offender being inducted into the program.
Drug Court staff and participants work together to develop individual program plans that include specific responsibilities and goals with timetables. Plans include group, family and individual counseling; urine testing; educational and vocational training; and health and community activities. Participants report directly to the Drug Court judge, who rewards progress and sanctions noncompliance. When participants successfully complete the program, charges may be dismissed through diversion or conditional discharge may be granted through probation.
Kentucky Drug Court is administered through the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort. The AOC is the operational arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of more than 3,400 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.
DRUG COURT WORKS!
Kentucky Drug Court Quick Facts
- The Kentucky Drug Court Department was created in 1996. Jefferson County started a Drug Court program in 1993.
- Currently there are 42 operational Drug Court sites that serve 59 counties. Twelve adult, two family and nine juvenile programs are in the planning stage and will serve 22 additional counties when implemented, giving 81 Kentucky counties access to Drug Court.
- Drug Court is a nonadversarial, treatment-oriented sentencing alternative for nonviolent,
drug-addicted criminals. The judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, law enforcement officers, treatment provider and Drug Court staff comprise the team that determines who may enter the program and the sanctions to impose for Drug Court violations.
- The program is designed to reduce high recidivism rates of nonviolent, drug-addicted offenders. It helps stop illicit drug use and criminal activity, and promotes recovery through substance abuse education and treatment.
- The program consists of three phases and aftercare. Participants typically complete the program in 18 to 24 months.
- Participants must meet specific expectations to complete the program. Program plans include group and individual counseling, frequent and random urine testing, and educational and vocational training.
- Participants report directly to their Drug Court judge on a frequent and regular basis. Drug Court judges volunteer their time.
- Drug Court staff provide thorough case management, including employment and housing verifications, curfew checks, referrals to appropriate agencies, and reporting to the Drug Court judge.
- The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort administers Drug Court for the Kentucky Court of Justice.
Drug Court Successes
- More than 3,000 people have participated in Kentucky Drug Court since its inception in 1996.
- As of September 2004, 1,093 participants have graduated from Drug Court.
- Currently 841 people are enrolled in Kentucky Drug Court.
- Drug Court participants represent a savings to the state of more than $14.5 million in jail and prison costs.
How Drug Court is Funded
- One-third of Kentucky Drug Court sites are funded through federal grants. Federal grants often require matching state funds, which must be approved by the Kentucky General Assembly.
- The 2004 General Assembly approved $6.4 million for FY 2004-2006 to replace depleted