Drug court secures federal grant

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Barry County Drug Court has received some very welcome news. After functioning for two and a half years without state or federal funding, the local program has been awarded a substantial federal grant that will allow the program to expand over the next three years.

The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant award totals $950,000 and includes funding for both the Barry and Stone County Drug Court programs. The Barry County portion of the grant comes to $110,000 to $125,000 per year for a total of $375,000 in funding. Only eight SAMHSA grants were awarded in the United States this year.

"We are thrilled to be awarded this grant," said Barry County Associate Circuit Judge Victor Head. "This will enable our program to build upon the tremendous community support we have enjoyed and expand our program to better serve Barry County."

Since the Barry County Drug Court began operating in May of 2008, the program has relied on local grants, fundraisers and assistance from generous community members.

A total of 23 participants have been accepted into Barry County Drug Court, and six individuals have graduated from the intensive program, which on average takes 18 months to complete.

Currently, the local Drug Court serves 15 participants. Under the provisions of the grant, participation in the program is expected to expand by 200 percent to 60 participants over the next three years.

Stone County Drug Court was formed in 2004 as a pilot program for the 39th Judicial Circuit, which include Stone, Barry and Lawrence counties. Over the past six years, the program has admitted over 150 persons, graduated over 60 and presently serves 45 participants.

"Since May of 2008, we have had to keep our participant numbers below what we wanted, because we had no operating budget to work from," said Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox, who is a member of the Barry County Drug Court planning team and guiding force behind the creation of the program.

"We are extremely grateful to the Barry County community for their overwhelming support of the program and our efforts to give individuals an opportunity to change and improve their lives and make Barry County a better place to live," Cox added.

Other members of the Barry County Drug Court team in addition to Judge Head and Cox include: Drug Court Coordinator Cindy Puryear; treatment provider Earl Best; Probation and Parole Officer Nancy Foulke; Barry County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Landreth; Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr, attorney Don Trotter; and Lisa Schlichtman, media coordinator.

SAMHSA has awarded grants to select drug court programs across the United States for many years for the purpose of expanding program capacity, studying how the programs function and evaluating their effectiveness. The grant received by the Barry County Drug Court provides funding in three primary areas: treatment and testing; staff training; and program evaluation and research.

Over a decade of research shows drug courts provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional prosecution and incarceration of nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems. Drug court actively intervenes to break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction and crime. Offenders learn to change their behavior through substance abuse treatment, frequent drug testing and intensive court supervision.

According to members of the Barry County Drug Court team, community involvement and support has contributed to the court's ability to bring the program to where it is today and ongoing support remains essential to ensuring the program experiences continued success.

"We promise the taxpayers that this money will be used wisely and efficiently, and we will do everything we can to show positive results," said Cox. "We will also continue to see community support and won't soon forget all the gracious help we have received."

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