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More Drug Courts Coming To Southeast Kansas - KOAM TV 7

More Drug Courts Coming To Southeast Kansas

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Crawford County, KS leaders are looking to establish a specialty court program for first and second time drug offenders.

Drug court is a certified drug treatment program. The program is gaining popularity across the country, especially in communities struggling to stop the cycle of drug abusers. 

Donna Lowery is a recovering drug addict, who says she first tried marijuana at the age of nine. 

"I got introduced to meth when I was 13 then got introduced to the needle when I was 16.  I got taught how to manufacture meth when I was 16 and it all went downhill from there," said Lowery.  

Growing up in what she called a dysfunctional family, Lowery says she knew she needed help, but didn't know where to go.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice: Crawford, Cherokee, and Labette counties have been designated as a Federal Drug High Trafficking Area.

11th District Court Judge Lori Fleming wants to end the cycle of drug abusers in the area. 

"We have a variety of problems right here in Crawford County ranging from drug abuse, violence, poverty and we have a very high rate of children in foster care and those things are all issues that don't seem to be improving," said Fleming. 

That's why county leaders are working to establish a specialty drug court.. 

"Recidivism is a problem it really is with drug addiction and drug addict behavior. People are going into the court system and their coming out and going right back in that's not good for any community," said Pittsburg Police Chief Mindy Hulvey. 

Pittsburg ranks in the top of the state for property crime, which Chief Hulvey says stems from drug use. 

"I think it's an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves here and look at treatment as an option to combating the drug problem here," said Hulvey.  

Drug court for the county will be a rehabilitation type process, offered to juveniles and adults. However, if an defendant is unsuccessful sanctions are followed strictly.  

Judge Fleming says the success of the program can be determined by neighboring county Allen County's drug court. 

"In the 31st Judicial District their population is very similar to ours they face many of the same problems we are excited to see their success," said Fleming.  

Allen County's drug court program began a year ago. So far the program has two graduates. 

"I was not a firm believer when we first started talking about the drug court program," said Allen County Attorney Wade Bowie. 

Chief Judge of Allen County Dan Creitz says, the program benefits first and second time offenders from making the same mistake.  

"Ten years ago in Kansas we passed a bill called Senate Bill 123. Its been modified many of times. It's a mandatory drug treatment crime so as judge they come to me and their Senate Bill 123 they cannot be sent to prison," said Creitz. 

The alternative is the drug court program.  

To be apart of the treatment program the person has to be a felon, they cannot be a manufacturer, they must have no serious personal crimes on their record, and they cannot be an alcoholic.  

One 4-stater credits an Southwest Missouri drug court for his success in getting clean. 

42 year old Steve Campbell graduate from a drug court program in McDonald County, Mo. 

"I really didn't see my addiction as a problem. I knew it caused problems but I never saw it as a problem," said Campbell. 

Through his addiction Campbell continued to work and support his family financially.

"It become such as habit I didn't know what it was like not to be high. Until I went to drug court and got clean," said Campbell. 

He says his sober life is much more fulfilling, than the life he led as an addict. 

"I got my relationship with all four of my children. I'm very active in my children's lives especially sports and I'm going to be a grandpa in March," Campbell said. 
 
The National Institute of Justice says, the impact of drug courts lowers recidivism, cuts cost in the criminal justice system, and a two year follow up study on one drug court showed the felony re arrest rate decreased from 40% before drug court to 12% after drug court stated. 

"You can see in the way they present themselves they are proud they are happy you can tell it's making a positive impact on their life," said Bowie.

Crawford county officials do not have an official date at this time for it's drug court.. 

County leaders say they are working now to find the funding. They believe they can operate the courts on a shoe string budget of around $10,000.

 

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