Mar 302011

By Naomi Hatch —

Approximately 80 percent of people in jail have substance abuse problems, members of the Snowflake-Taylor Chamber of Commerce learned at their monthly luncheon held Wednesday, March 23, at Heritage Social Hall in Snowflake.

“Locking them up historically has not worked,” said Navajo County Attorney Brad Carylon, who then outlined the Navajo County Drug Court process.

Drug court handles cases where offenders have a drug dependency with supervision, monitoring, and intense treatment and community service rather than through incarceration with the goal of rehabilitating participants. The hope of this program is that offenders will “take control of their life.”

“When they graduate we see more than 40 percent do not re-offend or re-use for the next year,” the county attorney noted.

According to a brochure provided to meeting attendees, drug court offers a “deferred judgment” for offenders who are just entering the criminal justice system and a “post-sentencing” track for offenders who have violated the terms of their probation. The offender has to show habitual use or abuse of drugs or alcohol and must be a resident of Navajo County; however they cannot have a history of violence or sexual crimes.

This is a rehabilitation program that recognizes that individuals must accept responsibility for their actions. The drug court Judge has extensive involvement and participants meet weekly with the drug court team to evaluate their progress and make recommendations.

There are consequences for abuses and rewards for positive behavior.

Due to financial constraints, the program can only take 30 participants at a time. Drug court officials are asking for support from local businesses by employing drug court graduates and donating money or merchandise that could be used for incentives, such as gift cards for clothing or food and pre-paid gas cards.

Northland Pioneer College (NPC) Foundation has set up a scholarship fund to pay for classes in the drug court program and asked businesses or individuals to donate to the NPC Scholarship Fund.