City expected to OK drug court funding tonight

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Thanks to a federal grant, the city’s fledging drug court soon will be able to more than quadruple the number of people it helps overcome addiction habits.

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the city a $445,000 grant to expand the drug court program, which is now limited to 10 participants.

The Suffolk City Council is expected to approve the necessary local funding match of

Email newsletter signup

$148,384 at its meeting tonight.

With the additional resources, the drug court will be able to serve up to 50 people within the next two years, said Jerri Eure , the city’s criminal justice planner who wrote the grant application.

&uot;We are thrilled,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s a great program…that helps build healthy families and healthy communities.&uot;

Suffolk’s drug court was launched last spring on a shoestring budget of $50,000 from the city. Court officials and agencies have been volunteering their time and resources to help run the program, Eure said.

The grant will be used to hire a drug court administrator and

pay for drug treatment, drug testing items and law enforcement that can monitor participants’ progress.

Drug courts have been successful nationwide in helping non-violent offenders combat addiction habits and become successful, productive citizens, said Eure.

&uot;It is an alternative to incarceration…for otherwise decent people who made a series of bad decisions,&uot; Eure said. &uot;This program is designed to end the cycle of addiction…and help these people become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.&uot;

Rather than go to jail, participants agree to attend an extensive series of activities designed to help them break their drug habits, she said. They go to counseling three times a week, appear in court once a week, submit to drug testing at least three times a week and meet regularly with probation and parole officers.