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Posted on: January 6, 2022

Department of Justice Awards Grant to Riley County for New Drug Court Program

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(RILEY COUNTY, KANSAS – January 6, 2022) A grant totaling $549,999 was awarded to the Riley County Community Corrections Department on December 9 to implement a drug treatment court program in the community.

Treatment Courts, sometimes called Specialty Courts, offer specialized court docket programs that help criminal offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems become and remain sober. The goal is to help participants recover from use disorder with the aim of reducing future criminal activity.

As an alternative to incarceration, drug courts reduce the burden and costs of repeatedly processing high-risk/high-need, non‐violent offenders through the nation's courts, jails, and prisons while providing offenders an opportunity to receive treatment and education. This approach helps participants go on to live productive lives and frees up law enforcement to focus on violent offenders, thus making all of us safer in our community. 

Drug court participants are required to abstain from substance use, to be accountable for their behavior, and to fulfil the legal responsibilities of the offenses they have committed. Tragically, individuals with substance use disorders are more likely to be incarcerated than treated (NADCP, 2021). 

Senate Bill 123 (2003) was created to treat non-violent drug offenders under supervision of community corrections by providing community-based substance abuse treatment, however, non-SB123 offenders struggle to pay for and access community-based treatment. This grant will not only assist with paying for treatment, it will also assist with paying for Medication-Assisted Treatment for those struggling with opioid use disorders.  

“The premise behind a treatment court is accountability, rigorous treatment, and a supportive environment with positive reinforcement,” said Shelly Williams, Community Corrections Director for Riley County. “Drug Court participants will attend weekly Court hearings. The Drug Court Team, made up of treatment providers, law enforcement, probation, prosecution, defense counsel and the judge, meet weekly to evaluate progress and make recommendations for therapeutic adjustments and other behavior change strategies.” 

Difficulties with the current court response involving substance abuse include the limited amount of funding available for treatment for non-SB123 sentenced individuals, a greater number of high-risk/high-need clients being assigned to community supervision, many with severe mental health issues aggravated by substance abuse, no local inpatient substance abuse treatment facility, no local social or medical detox, lack of affordable housing, and no sustainable, safe, structured, sober living environment. Unlike a Drug Court which creates a supportive environment with positive reinforcement, the current court response does not incorporate opportunities for positive client interactions within the system.

To fulfill the grant requirements, Riley County will incorporate existing services including evidence-based substance abuse treatment, a random drug testing program, and operationalize the 10 Key Components of Drug Courts.

The 10 Key Components of Drug Court include:

  1. Drug courts integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing. 
  2. Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights.
  3. Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the drug court program.
  4. Drug courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services. 
  5. Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing. 
  6. A coordinated strategy governs drug court responses to participants’ compliance.
  7. Ongoing judicial interaction with each drug court participant is essential. 
  8. Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness. 
  9. Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective drug court planning, implementation, and operations. 
  10. Forging partnerships among drug courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances drug court program effectiveness.

Although not notified until December 9th, the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, awarded the federal grant for 48 months from October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2025. The 21st Judicial District applied for the grant after reading and hearing about the sustained success of specialty courts in Kansas and nationwide. Planning for drug court started in November of 2019. 

“Community Corrections has started the process to accept the grant and set an implementation date,” said Williams. “Once it is implemented, the program will be available to serve new and current convicted SB123 offenders.”

Riley County Community Corrections provides a cost-effective means of promoting public safety through balancing offender accountability, supervision, and improving offenders' ability to live productively and lawfully in their community.   The agency supervises adult and juvenile felony offenders placed on intensive supervision by the District Courts. For more information, visit https://www.rileycountyks.gov/17/Community-Corrections.

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