Drug court team returns from LA

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Members of the Barry County Drug Court Planning Team are poised to begin implementing a drug court system locally after returning from a Drug Court Planning Initiative Adult Training Program in Los Angeles, Calif.

The intense five-day training, which was held March 10 through March 14, was presented by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in collaboration with the National Drug Court Institute. The Barry County group received a grant to attend the training through BJA.

Planning team members who successfully completed the training program include: Associate Circuit Court Judge Victor Head; Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox; Nancy Foulke, Probation and Parole, community supervision; Cindy Puryear, court clerk, drug court coordinator; Don Trotter, defense attorney; Earl Best, Clark Mental Health Center, treatment coordinator; Lisa Schlichtman, media relations/evaluator; and Dana Kammerlohr, captain with the Barry County Sheriff's Department, community policing.

The Barry County team has been meeting since May of 2007 to get a drug court up and running in Barry County. The group expects to accept its first participants into the drug court program in the next two to three weeks.
Drug courts have been operating throughout the state of Missouri since 1993 when Jackson County established the state's first drug court. Currently, there are 108 operational drug court programs in Missouri, which serve over 3,000 active participants. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the mission of drug courts is to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and related criminal activity.

Drug court is not a way for offenders to escape punishment. Instead, drug court is often considered more intense than straight probation.

Drug courts offer offenders the opportunity to participate in intensive treatment for their drug or alcohol addiction. A team approach is utilized in the drug court system, which involves the judge, probation officers, law enforcement, the prosecutor and treatment professionals.

"Offenders will be required to attend court more often than the current standard and will be held accountable for their actions," said Judge Head. "I like the fact that offenders will also be subjected to drug screenings and required to attend in-patient treatment, seek employment, housing and an education."

At the training in Los Angeles, Barry County team members were able to fine tune their mission statement and goals as well as finalize their policy and procedures.

The training featured nationally recognized experts who educated drug court planning teams from across the country on key segments of the drug court model. Session topics included: diversity, psychopharmacalogy, clinical and legal assessment, treatment methodologies, role clarification and responsibilities, treatment, incentives and sanctions, relapse, drug testing, community supervision, ethics and confidentiality, evaluation, resources and court requirements.

On Friday, March 21, the team will be submitting a budget request for state funding for the next fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

Anyone who would like more information about the Barry County Drug Court is encouraged to speak with any of the planning team members.

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