Kentucky Court of Justice
Former Operation UNITE director to be guest speaker at Franklin County Drug Court graduation Nov. 12

Press Release Date:  Thursday, November 06, 2014  
Contact Information:  Jamie Neal
Public Information Specialist
502-573-2350, x 50033

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Former Operation UNITE Director Karen Kelly will be the guest speaker at a graduation ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 12, to recognize four individuals who have successfully completed the Franklin County Drug Court program. The ceremony is open to the public and will take place at noon EST at the Franklin County Courthouse at 222 St. Clair St. in Frankfort.

Franklin County Circuit Court Judges Phillip J. Shepherd and Thomas D. Wingate volunteer their time to serve as Drug Court judges and will oversee the graduation ceremony.

Kelly helped create UNITE and served as its director from its start in 2003 until 2013. UNITE stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, and works to rid southeastern Kentucky communities of illegal drug use. She left the program to serve in her current position as a district director for U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers. Rogers launched UNITE in response to a special report by the Lexington Herald-Leader about drug abuse in southeastern Kentucky, which largely includes his 5th Congressional District.

In addition to the public, invitees to the graduation ceremony include law enforcement representatives, elected officials, attorneys and representatives of drug treatment facilities.

The Franklin County Drug Court program has 46 participants counting the individuals who are scheduled to graduate Nov. 12. Since its inception in 2008, 22 people have graduated from the program. Curtis Montague is the program supervisor and Shannon West is the recovery coordinator.

About Kentucky Drug Court
Kentucky Drug Court is administered through the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort, which oversees 55 adult programs that serve 115 counties.

Drug Court’s mission is to provide court-supervised treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The program’s success can be measured in the number of lives changed and the cost savings to Kentucky taxpayers. For every $1 spent on Drug Court graduates, the state saves $2.72 on what it would have spent on incarcerating these individuals.

The program has helped reduce illicit drug use and related criminal activity and lowered rearrest, reconviction and reincarceration rates. It has increased payments of delinquent child support and improved employment rates. As of Dec. 31, 2013, 6,289 individuals had graduated from Drug Court programs statewide and participants had paid more than $4 million in child support and $4.7 million in court obligations, including restitution and fines.

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 program consists of three phases that last at least one year and are 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 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.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.