Page 28 - Scene Magazine 44-12 December 2018
P. 28

CalCo Admin Update
BY KELLI SCOTT
Calhoun County Administrator/Controller
ing forward for individuals charged with a criminal offense. Calhoun County cur- rently has the following programs: Mental Health, Veterans, Sobriety, and men’s and women’s Drug Treatment Courts.
Offering Drug Treatment Courts is one way County Government actively seeks to mitigate the negative effects
of the opioid epidemic going on in our county. In late November, a report was released by the Calhoun County Public Health Department about opioid-related risks and outcomes. This report is posted on the Health Department’s website. It found that Calhoun County’s 2018 opioid death rate was higher than the state’s average, with 36 residents dying of an overdose for every 100,000 residents. The state’s rate is 20 deaths per 100,000 residents.
“This is not a program that is easy,” said Judge John Hallacy. “In fact, the program can be very difficult. Many of the participants come in not just with a substance abuse problem. They come
with a lifetime of trauma... But once they address these issues, they can begin to be productive citizens and no longer turn to substances to deal with the pain and issues of their past.”
These courts are a proven return
on investment by avoiding other more costly options, and funding comes from numerous sources in order to make them possible. Calhoun County’s treatment courts are funded by grants, alcohol taxes collected locally, and the county’s general fund. Even with budget cuts over the years, the Calhoun County Board of Com- missioners has prioritized and provided gap funding for these services for our residents.
Our medical director’s report identi- fies four ways to address the epidemic, including prevention and education, supply and control of opioids, harm reduction, and treatment. It states that
a multi-sector, collaborative approach across communities is required to con- front the epidemic, including treatment access across a continuum of care. For individuals affected by opioid addiction who have committed a crime, treatment is a key function of the Drug Treatment Court.
Both judges who preside over these treatment courts have found that gradu- ates of the program become positive and productive members of society. Many go on to work in the recovery community or sponsor other participants. Recidivism is reduced, and ultimately the community as a whole is safer and fewer public safety dollars are spent.
The men’s and women’s Drug Treatment Courts are led by Judge John Hallacy and Judge Sarah Lincoln re- spectively. These courts are for individ- uals who are charged with a felony and have a drug or alcohol addiction. Each program includes four phases and man- dates treatment, drug testing, biweekly court sessions, support groups, individu- al case manager meetings, employment, education, and personal finance and life-skills training.
“I have worked within the justice sys- tem for 31 years. I have been a prosecutor, parole board member and a judge. Treat- ment courts are the best program I have seen to keep people out of the ‘revolving door’ of the justice system... Treatment courts are designed to help address the issues driving the criminal behavior. While not 100% successful, they have a proven impact on recidivism,” said Judge Hallacy.
Calhoun Coun- ty’s problem-solv- ing courts are designed to promote the safety and well-being of the community, while also improving the quality of life mov-
“Presiding over the women’s drug court program is one of the most fulfilling duties I have as a judge,” said Judge Sarah Lincoln. “It is so important to be able
to sentence someone, not just to punish them, but to provide them the tools they need to move forward without offend- ing. This strengthens the women, their families, friends, and the community as a whole.”
Recognizing that treatment often means dealing with issues beyond sub- stance abuse, the program requires a lot
of participants. Graduates must maintain full-time employment, complete a GED or high school diploma, and exhibit honesty and personal responsibility in all dealings with the court.
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