Drug Court grant seeks expansion funds

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Adult Drug Court is seeking a three-year federal grant, which, if approved, would provide funds for expansion of the program allowing more services to be provided to more clients.

The drug court program provides help to clients referred to the program by the prosecutor’s office, attorneys, police officers and social service agencies to get services to help them kick their addiction and get their lives back on track.

Katherine Boggs, adult drug court coordinator/probation officer, noted the program helps keep individuals out of jail, lowering the county jail bill and reduces recidivism by addressing the root of the problems.

Meeting with the county commission, Boggs said the grant funds would enable the program to expand from a potential 40 to 80 clients and provide more services.

“We are applying for $185,000 per year for three years. We hope to add some courses through the Day Report Center, a family education component. A lot of the addicts’ families don’t know anything about addiction. We would educate them, and offer individual help for what are called co-occurring disorders, both addiction and mental health issues. It gets people out of jail into rehabilitation, helps those who need it and the community as a whole,” Boggs said. “We use a holistic approach, it’s a large challenge.”

There is no match required from the county for the grant funding. The grant application will be forwarded to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services division, under the Department of Health and Human Services.

“It sounds like a great program,” said commission President Wayne Dunn. The commissioners voted unanimously to allow the president to sign the application so it can be forwarded.

“We have to make sure people on the program are properly supervised and we would need more probation officers to do that as well,” Boggs said.

Program clients are provided with case management, help with getting a GED, counseling, parenting skills if needed, there is a women’s group, life skills, referral for mental health services as well as supervision including random and frequent drug testing, home visits. Some clients are also monitored electronically through the Home Confinement Program.

Referrals of clients come from the prosecutor’s office, attorneys, police and social service agencies. In addition to Boggs, adult drug court coordinator/probation officer, the program includes counselors who teach classes and do case management, parenting groups, women’s group, life skills and referral to Westbrook Health Services is made as needed.

Retired Wood County Magistrate Donna Jackson serves as judicial official over the program. Assessments are done on clients. A treatment team, which includes law enforcement, treatment officials, Boggs, Jackson, probation officers, defense attorney and a local physician review each client’s case.

Clients on the program must have a job or be enrolled in school when they leave the program as part of their graduation requirements. Committing another crime while on the program means automatic dismissal from the program. They are placed on probation for at least one year after successful completion of the program. Minimum time on the program is a year, but some have been on it three years, with the usual time being about 16 months. Most of the clients on the program have pleaded guilty, and they are sentenced once they complete the program.