LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
While most of the participants in the Drug Court program are not employed by the time they reach circuit court and are referred to the Drug Court program, they are required to seek employment as well as participate in community service.
Statistics provided by Reams-Wagers show that participants have performed nearly 36,700 hours of community service which includes helping with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Walk over the past 10 years. Other projects have included Shop-n-Share for Domestic Violence Shelters, the Ronald McDonald House Wish List for two years, Warm Hands/Warm Hearts program to collect gloves for children, the Laurel-London Optimist Club food drive, assisting with the Knox-Whitley County animal shelter, and donating two Thanksgiving food baskets and turkeys for the St. William Church mission project. Another recent project was Operation Christmas, which sends shoe boxes filled with candy, sanitation supplies, stationary and other items to underprivileged children.
Taking pride in being an American is also emphasized through National Drug Abuse Awareness Month each May in which participants collect items for care packages that are sent to soldiers in Afghanistan.
While helping others, participants who are behind in their child support payments also receive help getting that balance back on track. Statistics show that $137,454.35 of child support payments has been received from Drug Court participants who have fallen behind in their payments.
“A lot of this is due to addiction issues where the parent isn’t working due to their problem,” Lay said.
Education on the effects of drugs and alcohol on unborn children has also been a focus of the Drug Court program. Once again, through its vigorous agenda and counseling, 23 babies have entered this world drug-free.
Since its establishment in 1999 by former Circuit Court Judges Lewis B. Hopper and Roderick Messer, approximately 449 individuals have been enrolled in the drug court program, with 205 completions.
The Drug Court program is highly regarded across the Commonwealth, with 115 counties of the state’s 120 now offering drug court programs.
“We usually hear how we are behind other states, but with the drug court program, Kentucky is ahead of the other states with 115 of 120 counties having their own programs,” Lay said. “That indicates that we are doing something right with dealing with the substance abuse in our state.”