Grant is awarded to Drug Court

Monday, June 10, 2002

BLOOMFIELD - A federal grant of $167,474 was awarded to the Stoddard County Drug Court Program.

The three-year grant is from the Drug Courts Program Office, a division of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The money will be used to expand the existing program and enhance services available to participants.

Since its inception in August 1999, Associate Circuit Judge Joe Satterfield has served as drug court judge for the Stoddard County Drug Court. Treatment services are provided by the Southeast Missouri Community Treatment Center in Dexter and community supervision is provided by the Missouri Department of Probation and Parole.

The drug court was created to supervise eligible felony drug offenders through a comprehensive and judicially monitored program of drug treatment and rehabilitation services. It provides a non-traditional approach to non-violent criminal offenders who are addicted to drugs. Rather than focusing only on the crimes they commit and the punishment they receive, Drug Court also attempts to address the underlying addiction.

The goals of the program are to reduce crime and recidivism, enhance community safety, reduce substance abuse and enable drug court participants to become responsible and productive members of the community, officials said. The program lasts from 12-18 months.

During each phase of the program, the participant must be employed, attend counseling, meet regularly with a probation officer and submit to frequent random drug tests. Each participant must appear before Satterfield twice a month.

While the main focus of the program is substance abuse, other behavioral issues are also addressed. Family counseling, parenting issues, employment and education are all part of the comprehensive approach.

Twenty participants have graduated from the Stoddard County Drug Court Program. The requirements for graduation include staying clean and sober for six months, obtaining either a high school diploma or GED certificate, maintaining full time employment, successful completion of all three levels of the program and developing a plan for continuing treatment after Drug Court. Depending on the type of case, Drug Court graduates may have the charges against them dismissed, or the amount of time they spend on probation significantly reduced.

Participants who do not comply with the rules of the Drug Court may receive a number of sanctions, including jail time, community service hours, increased attendance at AA/NA meetings or increased treatment hours. If a participant fails to complete the program, the case is returned to the regular criminal docket.

The University of Missouri-Columbia School of Social Work has completed an evaluation of 14 Missouri Drug Courts. The evaluation revealed that only 8.7 percent of Drug Court graduates across the state had a new arrest in the year following graduation, and two-thirds of these arrests were for misdemeanors. In contrast, 32.4 percent of those who failed to complete drug court had new arrests within a year, and over half of these were felonies.

The days served in incarceration is 17 times greater for individuals terminated from the program than those who graduated. Using the Missouri Department of Corrections cost-per-day formula, the cost of incarceration for the graduates was $169,957.20 and the cost of incarceration for participants who were terminated was $2,801,652.36.

The University of Missouri evaluation also found that at least 45 babies were born drug free while their mothers were participating in the 14 programs studied. The Stoddard County Drug Court program has had three drug-free babies born during the program and has helped reunite several families, according to Satterfield.

The federal grant month will allow the program to assist more non-violent substance abuse offenders in becoming healthy, productive members of their families and the community.

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