Establishment of a Drug (Treatment) Court in the 11th Judicial District composed of Crawford, Cherokee and Labette Counties is moving forward with the recent hiring of a Specialty Court program coordinator by the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK).
CHC/SEK was recently awarded $150,050 through the Kansas Fights Addiction Grant Program created as a result of the state’s settlement with major pharmaceutical companies and distributors. Kansas has secured more than $340 million to be paid to the state over the next 18 years. A total of 24 organizations were awarded funding during this cycle focusing on prevention, providers/health systems and public safety related to opioids.
Funds were awarded to CHC/SEK to assist the court system with the startup of a Drug Court, also known as a Specialty Court, which provides an option for incarcerated individuals convicted of non-violent drug related offenses. Drug Courts operate under a model that combines intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, escalating sanctions and treatment to help substance-abusing offenders break the cycle of addiction and the crimes that often come with it.
“We estimate to get the program fully designed, staffed, operational and financially sustainable will take two-to-three years,” according to Daniel Creitz, JD, CHC/SEK’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel, adding Chief District Court Judge Lori Fleming has long been supportive of the concept but lacked the resources necessary for startup.
This funding is the first major step in program design along with the training essential to implementing a successful program which, in other jurisdictions, have been shown to be one of the most cost-effective and proven strategies to reduce drug use and crime.
“Nation-wide, studies show that 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest free at least two years after leaving the program,” said Creitz. In addition to personnel, the grant will support creation of a Drug Court Task Force, writing and submission of grant applications to federal funders, attendance at regional and national meetings for court officials, recruitment and training of additional personnel and a “pilot” Drug Court in Crawford County.
“This an incredible opportunity to start a program that has demonstrated it reduces arrest rates along with criminal activity and, more importantly, restores lives and heals families,” said CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai. “This was a natural next step to our provision of addiction treatment in area jails.”
“After learning that as many as 85% of those arrested in our county had never had access to addiction treatment and witnessing firsthand the impact our treatment staff was having, we see this as a critical time in an individual’s life to improve their lives,” Postai said. Once fully implemented, Postai estimates that about 100 individuals will participate annually in the program.