39th Circuit Court awarded $2 million grant for Drug Court

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Barry County is receiving a grant aimed to help people in the drug court system stay on the right path.

Chrissy Fortner, treatment court administrator 39th Judicial Court, said Barry County Adult Treatment Drug Court is now in its 11th year. Stone County is in its 15th year, and Lawrence County is in its 8th year.

“An estimated 75 percent of successful graduates never see another pair of handcuffs,” she said. “Treatment Court is not only more cost effective than incarceration, but individuals are equipped with the skills they need to establish and adhere to a sober, productive, and law-abiding lifestyle.”

Fortner said many of the graduates become guest speakers at graduations and conferences, lead recovery groups, and plan events for the recovery community.

“Drug Court is a highly structured program that requires the participant to frequently attend court, counseling sessions, and visit with their probation officer,” she said. “Random and frequent drug testing is done throughout the duration of the program, which is about 18-24 months.”

Fortner said led by the Treatment Court Judge, the team also consists of the administrator, probation and parole officer, treatment counselors, prosecuting attorney, defense counsel, law enforcement, and the treatment court clerk.

“The most recent participant drug court data, which compares program entry through graduation, shows an estimated 55 percent increase in employment status and a 60 percent increase in the ability to secure stable housing,” she said. “Recently, the 39th Circuit [consisting of Barry, Stone, and Lawrence counties] was

awarded a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).”

Fortner said this was one of only 20 grants awarded in the

United States, and it is the fifth consecutive grant awarded to the 39th Circuit since 2010.

“The funding will be used to increase access and availability of Adult Treatment Drug Court services, to include medication-assisted treatment, basic medical preventative services, dental

services, Hepatitis/HIV testing, and recovery housing,” she said. “The population of focus is repeat felony offenders diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) who demonstrate high clinical need and high criminogenic risk upon screening.”

Fortner said the program will serve 80 individuals annually and 400

individuals through the five-year life of the grant.

The grant was written by Fortner, 39th Circuit administrator; Dr. Vickie Luttrell, professor of psychology; and Dr. Jana Bufkin, associate professor of criminology. Luttrell and Bufkin will also serve as project evaluators.

Johnnie E. Cox, Barry County judge, said this grant award will now give the courts in the 39th Circuit the level of assurance that it can function for a significant period of time into the future. 

“The circuit’s track record of success and the people

behind that success made this grant award possible,” he said.

Stone County Judge Alan Blankenship, said the funding will enable Stone, Lawrence and Barry counties to serve more people and continue improving the programs.

“Drug courts have better-equipped our circuit courts to respond more efficiently and effectively to cases involving substance use

and other mental health disorders,” he said.

Lawrence County Judge Scott Sifferman said the funding allows the treatment courts to effectively integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in judicially supervised court settings that have jurisdiction over offenders to reduce recidivism and substance abuse.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: