Boone County plans to launch drug court


Boone County officials plan to establish a drug court to increase services for people in the county afflicted with drug addiction.

Boone County Corrections Pre-Trial Coordinator Ashley McClure would be the drug court’s coordinator. She said the drug court is in the early planning phases. The county intends to assemble a steering committee with the goal of launching the court in early 2022.

Other neighboring counties have drug courts, including Hamilton County, which established one in 2010. The court created an “intensive supervision and treatment program for non-violent drug addicted and drug dependent defendants,” according to Hamilton County’s probation department, something Boone County officials want to replicate.

Drug courts typically allow people who qualify to participate in rehabilitation and treatment services and receive resources, through the help of a case manager, to find housing and employment while undergoing regular drug screening. Requirements for participants to graduate from the drug court also are outlined.

Boone County’s drug court would be administered by the county’s circuit court under Boone County Circuit Court Judge Lori Schein.

Michael Nance, executive director of the county’s community corrections department, said during a July Boone County Commissioners meeting that a drug court would supervise people “in a way that has been shown across the country to actually help reduce recidivism and address the drug-use issue.”

“It’s not going to be a huge program starting out,” Nance said. “It’s very labor intensive. As far as the value to the county goes, I think it is getting the right people in the county into that program so that they can start to address their substance abuse issue.”

Nance said the impact of the drug court might not be seen immediately. He said the county would need to view the court as a long-term approach to providing assistance.

“You will see whether or not they, obviously, return to jail, but it is hard to measure things like their family life getting better or the fact that now they are employed and doing better at work or the fact that they are now going to their kid’s baseball games instead of going to do drugs,” Nance said.

McClure said the cost of launching the drug court hasn’t been determined.

“A lot of our expenses currently will, hopefully, be covered under grant funding,” McClure said. “We are too early, funding-wise, to know what this is going to look like at this point.”

To start, McClure said the county’s target population for the court would be “high-risk/high-need” residents who have “failed at all other types of community supervision.”

“This is going to be some intensive in-your-face, all-of-the-time contact with community corrections and the judge weekly,” McClure said.

County officials said the drug court would partner with local providers to offer myriad forms of therapy for participants.

“The drug court is a huge deal,” said Tom Santelli, president of the Boone County Commissioners. “It is another extension of the services that our community corrections and probation is providing, working with the judges.”

McClure said she wants to grow the program so that, eventually, everyone who could benefit from the program can participate without the county needing to limit the number of participants.