LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As daylight gives way to evening, a bright ray of hope still shines today for a half dozen people.
That hope is their “graduation” from the county’s drug court program, which is geared to help those with substance abuse addictions to regain control of their lives.
Although the success rate of completion is less than half of those who enter the program, drug court offers many troubled people the opportunity to avoid jail and/or prison. It also offers them a new lease on life by facing and overcoming their various addiction issues as well as their legal issues.
It also requires participants to learn more about the many aspects of Laurel County by requiring community service hours.
But drug court is not for everyone.
Laurel/Knox County Circuit Judge Greg Lay said that persons who commit felony offenses to maintain their drug habit may be eligible for the program, unless that crime is of a violent nature.
“We do not take anyone who has committed a violent crime, even if it is due to addiction,” Lay said. “The people we deal with at the circuit court level are through a referral basis and goes through the criminal justice process.”
The Commonwealth’s Attorney or the defense attorney can make such a referral for an offender, who then undergoes an assessment. The assessment is reviewed by a Drug Court team to see if the client meets their guidelines.
The first step is that the client must have a substance abuse issue and have some pending legal charges which do not constitute a violent crime. The second phase is compliance to the rules set out by Drug Court officials, including seeking employment.
Drug Court is designed in three phases. The first is to undergo a drug test and enroll in a treatment program. Drug tests are given two to three times each week and are conducted so that participants have slim to no chance to “fool the system.”