Iola community members received a lesson in drug court at Friday’s “See, Hear Iola!” Chamber of Commerce program.
Judge Dan Creitz, of Allen County’s 31st Judicial District Drug Court, gave a presentation on the drug court program, not a new concept but new to Allen County.
“This was not my idea,” Creitz said. “The sheriff, Tom Williams, came to me and Judge Saxton with this idea, and said ‘we have a drug problem… I think this will help us.’”
Drug court, not mandated by Kansas law, strives to reduce recidivism of drug offenders in the criminal justice system and provide community protection with a cost effective, integrated continuum of care through the development and utilization of community resources, as its mission statement reads.
“The purpose of this is to treat people addicted to drugs,” Creitz said. “We want to help them become law-abiding citizens.”
The program will begin Jan. 10 and will hold court appearances every other Thursday. The drug court will cover not only Allen County but the entire 31st Judicial District which includes Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties.
There will be three types of populations involved with the drug court. Offenders who have been placed under mandatory drug treatment under Senate Bill 123, those facing revocation in prison, and first-time offenders who work out a diversion sentence with a county attorney.
SB 123 was designed to provide community supervision and drug treatment to offenders with drug abuse problems in order to reserve correctional facility capacity for more serious and violent offenders.
Creitz and his drug court team have put in a lot of time to see if this program would be beneficial in Allen County. They observed drug courts in Emporia, Topeka, Wichita and Lancaster, Mo. and they attended a drug court planning initiative training program in San Diego funded by a federal grant. They were the only group in Kansas to be chosen for the training program.
According to Creitz, the team is meeting about every two weeks to finalize details of the drug courts beginning in January.
The court will hold 25 to 50 people in its court system.
“At first we will be dealing with people already in the system due to Senate Bill 123,” he said.
The success rate for this program has been statistically high.
According to Creitz, 75 percent of adult criminal drug court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs.
Offenders will spend roughly one year in the system.
“We have to make them understand they have a problem and that we are there to help. We can’t help them until they admit they have a problem though,” Creitz said.
THE next “See, Hear Iola!” program will be Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. at the New Community Building in Riverside Park.
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