Kentucky Court of Justice
Henderson County Drug Court program expands to include misdemeanor offenses

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 06, 2009  
Contact Information:  Jamie Ball
Public Information Specialist
502-573-2350, x 2233
jamieball@kycourts.net
http://courts.ky.gov
 


FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Individuals facing misdemeanor drug-related charges in Henderson County now have access to a court program designed specifically to address drug addiction. The Henderson County Drug Court program that began five years ago for individuals with felony drug-related charges has expanded to include misdemeanors.

“Due to a cooperative effort with Judges Wiederstein and McCollom, I’m pleased to announce the expansion of Henderson County’s Drug Court program,” said Henderson County Circuit Court Judge Karen L. Wilson, the judge for the local Drug Court program. “Drug Court has proven successful for Henderson. This expansion will allow us to reach a greater number of people and to reach them earlier in their addiction.”

The local Drug Court program, which is state-funded, accepted its first participant with misdemeanor drug-related charges in August and is accepting referrals for potential participants. Judge Wilson conducts weekly Drug Court sessions.

Judge Wilson worked with Henderson County Chief District Court Judge Robert K. Wiederstein and District Court Judge Charles R. McCollom III on the plan to include misdemeanor offenses in the Drug Court program. Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. temporarily assigned Judge Wilson as a special judge of Henderson County District Court so that she could admit qualified defendants with misdemeanor drug-related charges into the program. This assignment was necessary because District Court addresses misdemeanor offenses but the Henderson County Drug Court program is administered through Circuit Court.

The Drug Court program for Henderson County is among 54 adult Drug Court programs in Kentucky.

For more information or to make a referral to the Henderson County Drug Court program, contact Jamie Berry at 270-827-5595.

Kentucky Drug Court
Drug Court is proving 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. The program has 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 these individuals.

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

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

The Henderson County Drug Court program consists of three phases and aftercare and lasts at least 21 months for felony participants and at least 18 months for misdemeanor participants. 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 their 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. 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.

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 3,800 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks.

For more information about Drug Court, visit http://courts.ky.gov/stateprograms/drugcourt/.