Members of the Barry County Drug Court Planning Team had a little more to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day after receiving word that the team had been awarded drug court planning funds from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, Nov. 21 that Barry County had been selected to participate in the Bureau of Justice Assistance Adult Drug Court Planning Initiative (DCPI) for fiscal year 2008. The National Drug Court Institute provides technical support for the training program and Lockheed Martin provides logistical and administrative support.
DCPI is a national training initiative designed to assist jurisdictions in developing drug court programs. Under this initiative, jurisdictions, like Barry County, are selected to participate in a facilitated planning process that will begin next spring.
Barry County will select members of the planning team to attend at least one national training event, which typically is a week-long session. Additional training opportunities will also be made available to the team.
Each segment of training is designed to familiarize participants with the building blocks of a drug court. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from and work with actual drug court practitioners and experts throughout the planning process.
According to the DCPI website, the Adult Drug Court Planning Initiative is designed to fulfill three interconnected goals:
1. To educate the team on the basic concepts of drug court, including information on building the components of a drug court;
2. To provide the team with the fundamental skills necessary for the paradigm shift from standard case processing to drug court case processing; and
3. To encourage and educate the team to build its program with an emphasis on cultural competency, while integrating the court and treatment.
Nancy Foulke, a Barry County probation and parole officer, is an active member of the Barry County Drug Court Planning Team. She said she can't wait for the training to begin and the drug court program to become a reality.
"I believe drug court will be successful in Barry County, because many individuals have made a personal commitment to ensure that the program will work," said Foulke. "We have commitments from law enforcement, treatment facilities and the judicial community. Each individual readily acknowledges that Barry County would greatly benefit from a drug/alcohol specific program, which ensures the highest level of accountability available."
In addition to Foulke, the Barry County Drug Court Planning Team includes: Associate Circuit Court Judge Victor Head; Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox; Cindy Puryear, court clerk; Don Trotter, defense attorney; Earl Best, Clark Mental Health Center; Lisa Schlichtman, editor of the Cassville Democrat; and Dana Kammerlohr, lieutenant with the Barry County Sheriff's Department and county DARE officer.
"Each team member has an investment in making the community we all live in a better one," Foulke added.
As the planning process begins, the local planning committee will eventually be able to set a date for drug court to begin in Barry County. Training will also provide the local drug court team with information it needs to establish protocol and criteria for how the drug court will specifically operate within the local court jurisdiction.
Community involvement will also be a key factor in the success of Barry County's drug court.
"The community can offer initial support for the drug court program by being actively involved and invested in the program," said Foulke. "The community can provide support through monetary donations, providing community service work sites, offering employment, volunteering to serve as mentors and providing access to community-sponsored faith-based programs."
The Barry County Drug Court Planning Committee has discussed the possibility of forming a foundation that would allow individuals, businesses and organizations to make tax-free contributions in support of Barry County's drug court. These plans are still in the preliminary stages and would provide another avenue for members of the community to get involved with the drug court program.
"I believe support from the community is absolutely critical for the success of drug court," Foulke said.
Ann Wilson, alcohol and drug abuse coordinator with the Office of State Courts Administrator, agrees with Foulke's assessment of the importance of community support in a drug court's success. Wilson has been working with the Barry County Drug Court planning team in an advisory role since the group began meeting back in May.
"Drug court is a grassroots effort and the community needs to be involved, because it is a community problem," said Wilson. "Drug court participants have a lot of issues, not just substance abuse. Issues may involve dental, medical, mental health, transportation, housing, childcare and employment needs. The services must be found in the community in order for the person to have easy access to them and to help with their continued recovery."
This article is the fifth in a series of drug court articles that has been running in the Cassville Democrat since Oct. 31. This marks the final article in the series. In the coming months, the Cassville Democrat will keep readers informed about the progress of Barry County's drug court. More information about the program can be obtained from Judge Head, Cox or any member of the drug court planning committee.