Wednesday, February 24, 2010

St. Louis Country Tests Alcohol Bracelets

Guys and gals,
Drug Courts can help. Monitoring systems such as alcohol bracelets are "control mechanisms", but maybe the best way out is to get committed to YOURSELF, get in a good treatment program, enlist the support of your family, friends and spiritual counselor, (last, but certainly not least,imo).

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services (EMASS) has announced that Saint Louis County Justice Services awarded their alcohol monitoring contract for the county's DUI offenders to EMASS and their transdermal alcohol sensors, known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors).

SCRAM includes an ankle bracelet, worn around-the-clock, that samples an offender's perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. Both the St. Louis County Circuit and Drug Courts have used the SCRAM System on 375 offenders to-date. Nearly 70 offenders, predominantly repeat drunk drivers, are monitored daily in St. Louis County. The St. Louis City Court has monitored an additional 85 offenders with SCRAM.

According to EMASS President Mike Smith, the contract is particularly important because the review process included testing of other alcohol monitoring systems by Saint Louis County Justice Services officials. "We've been providing SCRAM technology to courts in the eastern part of Missouri since 2003 because we believe this technology is the best and most reliable way for the criminal justice system to fight the epidemic of drunk driving," says Smith. "SCRAM has revolutionized the way we manage DUI offenders, allowing courts to focus on the root cause of the criminal behavior, which is the alcohol abuse and addiction." EMASS has monitored nearly 2,500 offenders with SCRAM in 28 eastern Missouri counties. Smith says that by testing other technologies and selecting SCRAM and EMASS, the award underscores the county's belief in the system. "It tells us that we're delivering the right technology and providing value to their program. We are honored to be a part of this contract," he says.

Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAM System throughout the U.S., says the strongest testament to the reliability of the SCRAM System is when agencies test their product side-by-side with other testing protocols. "Seeing is believing," says Don White, AMS COO. "We've got a long, proven track record of successfully monitoring hundreds of thousands of offenders. But first-hand experience - putting SCRAM head to head with other testing protocols - is the best way to show officials the potential for managing their offenders and keeping communities safe," he says.

Statewide, SCRAM has been used to monitor nearly 4,000 Missouri offenders, including a highly publicized pilot program with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Nationally, SCRAM is used in 48 states and has monitored 125,000 offenders since 2003.

On February 1, AMS also began a controlled roll-out of the next generation of their system, which incorporates House Arrest monitoring into their transdermal monitoring bracelet. Known as SCRAMx, the system will begin limited use in eastern Missouri counties in March, allowing courts the option to increase or decrease supervision of repeat, high-risk offenders with a single monitoring bracelet.

Alcohol and Crime in Missouri

According to The Century Council, which compiles DUI/DWI data state by state, more than 35,000 offenders are arrested each year for DWI in the state of Missouri. Of those, more than 28 percent are repeat offenders. And according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 36 percent of violent crimes and 75 percent of domestic violence cases include offenders who were drunk at the time of the offense. Drunk drivers represent 18 percent of all those on probation each year, more than any other single offense. "Recidivism rates for offenders struggling with alcohol are astounding. Programs that can manage the addiction and ensure sobriety through continuous testing are seeing significant impact," says White.

About Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services (EMASS), Inc.

Founded in 1991, EMASS is a company that provides a wide range of services to the courts and criminal justice system throughout Missouri, including private probation supervision, pre-sentence investigations, SATOP service for DWI offenders, domestic violence counseling and education seminars, driver improvement programs and alcohol/drug education programs, as well as traditional electronic (house arrest) monitoring. Headquartered in St. Louis, EMASS has field offices in St. Charles, the City of St. Louis, Florissant, Olivette, O'Fallon, Warrenton, Montgomery City, Jefferson City, Columbia, Springfield, Union and Troy, Missouri.

About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.

Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world's only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption. SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 116 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.

SOURCE Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Programs help Children, Parents suceed

U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader praises efforts of local initiative
By Ruth Liao • Statesman Journal • February 17, 2010

"When northeast Salem esident Lucas Carpenter, 35, was arrested in June on theft and meth charges, he just felt failure and regret. He was having problems with his marriage, his children and his self-esteem.

But Carpenter underwent a turnaround as a participant of the Center for Family Success, a nonprofit program for parents with criminal backgrounds. He's going through drug treatment, family counseling, financial management and parenting classes.

"My life's in the middle of a complete overhaul," he said.

Carpenter shared his story with U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. and representatives from Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Tuesday.

The presentation showed the efforts of Marion County Kids First Initiative, a collaboration of programs and services for children whose parents are addicted to methamphetamine.

In 2008, Kids First was awarded federal grant funds of about $380,000, which were given in October 2008 and last until June of this year, said Barb Young, Marion County senior policy analyst.

Marion County also received $740,000 for its next phase of funding, which is set to come in October, Young said.

According to a survey conducted in 2005, 73 percent of inmates in the Marion County jail were parents, said Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson.

"A lot of times, we don't think of people in the criminal justice system as parents, just individuals," she said.

Marion County Sheriff's Cmdr. Jeff Wood, who supervises the parole and probation division, said his agency is using evidence-based programs to help clients feel motivated to change, not simply referring them to a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Schrader said he was impressed to hear of the "wraparound" approach in the programs. Schrader said he wanted to invest in these types of programs.

"You cannot have success if you lock up people for an 'X' amount of time," he said.

He said he hoped to see smaller towns and rural communities adopt a similar approach.

The Center for Family Success is run by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. The program helps to motivate participants with skills and services such as goal-setting, housing referrals, financial management, parenting classes and mentoring in order to reunify families broken by incarceration or drug abuse.

In all, 65 men and women have participated at the center; 60 people took part in job and skills training and 25 people were placed in jobs.

For Carpenter, who began using alcohol and drugs when he was 9 years old, meth was the hardest addiction to overcome. He used meth for eight years before his arrest last summer. Then, he took part in Marion County drug court and the Center for Family Success. Carpenter said staying clean has helped improve his family relationships and ongoing job search, especially having a relationship with his mentor Christopher Hupp, the program's director.

"He's helped me dust off the tools that I have," he said." or (503) 589-6941

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Drug Testing Technologies:Sweat Patch

Drug Testing Technologies: Sweat Patch
A recent innovation in the science of drug testing, the PharmChek Drugs of Abuse Patch - or "sweat patch" - is used to test for various illegal drugs. The sweat patch is affixed to the skin in much the same way as a band-aid, and is worn for up to 14 days. The patch is used to detect the presence of drugs as excreted through perspiration. Individuals required to wear the sweat patch are those on probation or involved in child custody cases. The federal government is currently considering use of the sweat patch in federal workplace drug testing.

The Drug Policy Alliance and DPA Network feel that the use of sweat testing in any of these settings is inappropriate, as published, peer-reviewed research has revealed serious problems with current sweat testing technology. We believe that sweat patch testing poses an unacceptably strong potential for false positive test results. False positives carry serious consequences for tested individuals - sometimes including incarceration or loss of child custody.

If you are involved in a court case where sweat patch evidence is being used, please contact us at Drug Policy Alliance tracks the use of the sweat patch, and in some cases can assist individuals in challenging the use or admission of sweat patch test results.

How does the sweat patch work?

The sweat patch consists of a gauze pad covered by a protective membrane similar to that of a band-aid. The membrane has an adhesive perimeter that sticks tightly to the test subject's skin. The sweat patch is usually worn on the subject's upper arm. Before application, the subject's arm is swabbed with an isopropyl alcohol rub.

After the patch has been worn for approximately seven to ten days, it is removed and the gauze pad is sent to the laboratory for testing. The lab usually performs "screening tests" for several different drugs, using an immunoassay testing system. If any screening test indicates the presence of a drug, the lab performs a "confirmatory test" for that drug, using the more precise "gas chromatography / mass spectrometry" (GC/MS) testing system. If the confirmatory test finds levels of the drug above the "cutoff" the lab is using, the lab will report a positive test result.

Where is the sweat patch being used?

Many counties around the country use the sweat patch to drug test individuals who are on probation, in drug courts, or involved in child custody cases. PharmChem contracts with these counties to sell them the sweat patch testing kits, to perform the drug tests, and to help the counties defend the results in court.

The Administrative Office of the Federal Courts also has a contract with PharmChem. This contract gives individual federal court districts the option to use the sweat patch when they drug test individuals who are on probation or "supervised release" for federal crimes. Not all federal court jurisdictions use the sweat patch, but many do.

How has the sweat patch fared in court?

Each trial court has the right to make its own decision as to whether sweat patch evidence will be admitted, and how that evidence will be used. A decision by an appellate court would govern the trial courts in that appellate court's jurisdiction, but so far there are no appellate court decisions on the sweat patch from either state or federal courts.

Many trial courts have considered the sweat patch. Some courts have admitted sweat patch evidence, and relied on it in deciding to imprison probationers or terminate parental custody. Others have found the sweat patch insufficiently reliable for these purposes: at least six different federal courts have rejected government efforts to base punitive action on sweat patch test results.

While Drug Policy Alliance tracks court decisions on the sweat patch, many of these cases are confidential, and hardly any have resulted in written court decisions. There is no exhaustive list of court rulings on the sweat patch. Only two courts have issued written decisions that discuss the science behind the sweat patch and are published in official legal case reports.

§ U.S. v. Snyder. F.Supp. 2d. 2002 WL 257381 N.D.N.Y., 2002. This recent federal court decision finds that in certain circumstances, the sweat patch can be environmentally contaminated, leading to a false positive test result. Because the defendant in this case made a plausible case that his positive test results were a product of environmental contamination, the court rejected the use of the sweat patch to revoke the defendant's supervised release.

§ U.S. v. Stumpf. 54 F. Supp. 2d 972 D. Nev. May 31, 1999. This federal court decision finds sweat patch evidence admissible, and rules that it can be used as the basis for revoking an individual's supervised release. This decision was issued prior to the release of several scientific studies that indicate problems with the sweat patch. The decision contains virtually no scientific analysis: the court simply describes the views presented by each side's expert, and then states that the court agrees with the government's expert.

What are the problems with the sweat patch?

The problems with the sweat patch are many:

False positives through environmental contamination. Scientific studies have demonstrated that environmental contamination can produce false positives in the sweat patch.

Naval Research Lab study. This study by the United States Naval Research Laboratory found that the sweat patch is susceptible to environmental contamination through two scenarios:

"Contamination from within": Environmental contamination may occur when a test subject has a small amount of drug residue on her skin where the patch is to be placed, and the isopropyl alcohol rub fails to remove that residue. The sweat patch will then pick up that drug residue, which becomes indistinguishable from drugs excreted through the subject's sweat, resulting in a false positive test result.

"Contamination from without": Environmental contamination may occur when drugs in the environment leak through the protective membrane covering a patch that is being worn. This situation is more likely when the membrane is wet and when it is exposed to a substance with a high ("basic") pH level. This is the environmental contamination scenario that led to the rejection of sweat patch evidence in U.S. v. Snyder .

PharmChem's internal studies have duplicated the results of the Naval Research Laboratory Study in finding that "contamination from within" can occur. PharmChem has refused to release or publish the results of these studies, but the studies were described in detail in the recent court hearing in U.S. v. Snyder .

Studies designed in consultation with PharmChem and conducted at the Center for Human Toxicology in Salt Lake City also duplicated the results of the Naval Research Laboratory Study in finding that "contamination from within" can occur.

False positives through skin storage. A recent study suggests that long-term storage of drugs in skin could lead to false positive test results. See Levisky, Bowerman, Jenkins, and Karch, "Drug Deposition in Adipose Tissue and Skin: Evidence for an Alternative Source of Positive Sweat Patch Tests," Forensic Science International 110 (2000) 35-46. The study indicates that chronic drug users may store drugs under the skin surface. These drugs may be released a long time after drug use so that "a sweat patch, used as a detection device, might falsely indicate that new drug use had occurred." Such false positives are a particular concern to the many individuals who have been heavy drug users, have conquered their drug habits, and are currently being tested by the sweat patch.

False positives during application and removal. Application and removal of the sweat patch are usually performed by non-medical personnel, in a non-clinical setting. Patches are often applied and removed in a probation office by probation officers who have received only a videotaped training. Any sloppiness or failure to follow proper procedures can easily result in false positives. PharmChem officials have themselves admitted that a there is a risk of false positives during application and removal. Indeed, one study indicates that even when application and removal is performed by scientists, in a laboratory setting, contamination can result in false positives. See Cone, Hillsgrove, Jenkins, Keenan, and Darwin, "Sweat Testing for Heroin, Cocaine, and Metabolites," Journal of Analytical Toxicology 18 (1994) 298, 304.)

No dose-response relationship. For any drug testing system, the "dose-response relationship" indicates the test result that one would normally expect to see based on ingestion of a certain amount of a particular drug. This information is central to analysis of the results of any drug test. If one does not know the dose-response relationship for a particular drug in a drug testing system, one cannot make meaningful statements about test results for that drug. And most importantly, one cannot set a "cutoff level" that will distinguish a positive test result from trace contamination of the subject, the sample or the testing system.

No one knows the dose-response relationship for sweat testing. The few attempts at controlled-dose studies have been methodologically inadequate, and have found enormous variability in test results.

In one study, a subject tested at 15 ng/ml after being given a dose of methamphetamine, while the next subject tested at 631 ng/ml, 42 times higher, after being given a smaller dose. (Compare subject # 6 with subject # 7, in unpublished "SCRI" study in PharmChem's FDA submission.) Such wide variations in response between different test subjects are typical. Subjects given 20 ng of methamphetamine, tested six days after ingestion, show results as low as 5.7 ng/ml (SCRI subject # 7) and as high as 905 ng/ml (SCRI subject # 15). These high-end results are in no way aberrational: twenty different tests in the SCRI study alone produced readings above 500 ng/ml; many readings were over 1000 ng/ml.

Substantial disparities exist even with two patches taken simultaneously from a single individual. The SCRI study tested two patches from the lower chest of Subject # 13, nine days after a dose of methamphetamine. One patch tested "negative" at 7.1 ng/ml, while the other tested at 30 ng/ml - a "positive" four times as high. Similarly, the study tested two patches removed from the lower chest of Subject # 5, seven days after the dose of methamphetamine. One patch tested at 34 ng/ml, while the other tested at 185 - more than five times as high.

To our knowledge, neither PharmChem nor any scientist has claimed to understand the dose-response relationship for sweat testing. Nonetheless, PharmChem employs cutoff levels that it claims can distinguish actual drug use from contamination. Without an understanding of a dose-response relationship, however, PharmChem's cutoff level is unreliable.

No regulation of PharmChem's testing program. The federal government does not regulate the use of the sweat patch. PharmChem's sweat testing program is not overseen by the federal government. The federal government does not require PharmChem's sweat testing program to use any particular collection techniques, chain-of-custody procedures, quality control mechanisms, or testing procedures.
All aspects of PharmChem's sweat testing program are designed and operated by a private corporation, without any public checks and balances or quality assurances. No government entity ensures that PharmChem is spending the money necessary to make its tests as accurate as possible. When a company markets a product as a means to catch more drug users, there may in fact be a financial incentive to return positive test results, regardless of accuracy. Without government regulation of PharmChem's testing program, such a dynamic can take effect.

Patch wear problems. The adhesive membrane covering the sweat patch is supposed to bind tightly to the subject's skin, theoretically protecting the sweat patch and preventing tampering. However, subjects routinely report that the membrane does not adhere properly, peeling or rolling up along one or more edges of the sweat patch. This appears to be particularly common when subjects perspire heavily. As far as we know, there have been no studies to determine how often the sweat patch will fail to adhere in real-life wear conditions.

When a sweat patch does not adhere properly, the subject is usually accused of having attempted to tamper with the sweat patch, and is considered as having submitted a positive drug test.

What about rumors that PharmChem has given false testimony about the sweat patch in court?

This memorandum was submitted as part of an ethics complaint filed with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Society for Forensic Toxicologists. It recounts testimony given under oath by Neil Fortner, a vice president of PharmChem, in various court hearings regarding the reliability of the sweat patch. These hearings occurred in cases involving removal of child custody and the threat of incarceration.

The memorandum describes numerous false statements made under oath by Mr. Fortner regarding scientific research on the sweat patch. The memorandum also describes false or strongly misleading statements made under oath by Mr. Fortner regarding his academic credentials. Drug Policy Alliance possesses and can produce copies of court transcripts and other documents referenced in the memorandum.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Redmond O'Neal to be released from Jail and Sent to Rehab

Redmond O'Neal, son of Farah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal was admitted last April to a drug court program in connection with two drug-related arrests – one involving possession of heroin and methamphetamine and the latter involving possession of methamphetamine...

However, O'Neal, 25, has been in jail since December 29 when he was arrested for an alleged probation violation

As it stands now, Redmond will be released from jail and sent to a residential treatment program, and from there to a clean living house after he finishes the treatment program.

No one knows what demons drive Redmond to continue this destructive pattern of drug use, or if the stint in rehab will be the answer for the troubled 25 yr. old. What has been shown is that continual exposure to a drug free environment is the key to success. Sometimes, simply giving sufficient time to get the drugs out of the system is enough to eliminate the strong addictive effects of the drugs, clearing the mind and body and set new healthy living patterns.

We wish Redmond all the best, but as the judge told Redmond, "It's up to you."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Woman Shares Drug Court Experiences

02/07/2010, 5:39 pm
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Dan Churney,, 815-431-4050
Theresa Boyle wasn't sincere when she first entered Grundy County drug court. She said she was in it to keep two felony convictions off her record. Not to stop using drugs and alcohol. Not to straighten out her life. Nothing else.

But that changed.

The 24-year-old Minooka woman, who has relatives in Streator, was arrested in early 2007 in Grundy County and charged with possession of cocaine and fraud. While in the jail in Morris, another woman there told her about the drug court program, which then was a few months old. Boyle shrugged, not thinking much of it.

Later, Boyle's attorney also told her about the program in greater detail and she gave it some thought, but didn't like the sound of it — too much supervision. However, she didn't want a felony record to dog her in the coming years, so she entered the program. She went into it addicted daily to alcohol and smoking. At one time for about six months, she had a $150-per-day cocaine habit, but she weaned herself from the white powder before drug court. She can't credit drug court with that, but she can credit it with keeping her off it and everything else.

"I realized I had no self-esteem, no values. I thought I was invincible. I had grown up too fast."

She attributed her substance abuse problems to not having a father in her life, which made her feel worthless, as if something was always wrong with her. She saw other children with fathers, but hers wasn't there.

Drug court showed her she wasn't the spoiled goods she believed.

"I loved drug court. They forced me to get a job. I'm lucky I'm alive, but I wasn't sincere at first. I drank the night before my first day in court. The toughest part was organizing everything, because they expect a lot. I was wasting a lot of time. They taught me to prioritize."

Boyle remembered the turning point came early, when Halloween approached shortly after she entered the program and she was invited to several parties where liquor and drugs would flow.

"Halloween is my favorite holiday. It was a big temptation, but I used the tools (drug court counselors) put in front of me. I resisted because of the consequences. My attorney told me I was walking a fine line and my life was at stake."

Boyle graduated from drug court in March 2009. Boyle and her 4-year-old son live with her mother. She also has aunts involved in her life. Boyle attends a community college full time.

"I put my whole life into my son and school."

However, in the process, she said she has lost four friends from childhood because they're "still in the scene," as she described the drug culture. "My medication is positive people."

Boyle agreed to go out of her way to speak to The Times about her experience with drug court because she'll do "anything to help the cause."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is Prison the Answer for Drug Users?

Is Prison the Answer for Drug Users?

Posted: Feb 8, 2010 11:37 PM CST

Updated: Feb 8, 2010 11:40 PM CST

Is Prison the Answer for Drug Users?

Reporter: Johnny Archer

Drug addicts and abusers can possibly face time behind bars if they are caught using drugs.

But is prison really the answer for drug abusers? Or is there an alternative solution to the problem?

"I graduated Drug Court with so much more knowledge on pill addiction," says Wes Elkins, a former drug user "How it changes your thought process. And your brain can out smart itself into basically an accidental overdose and the lose of your life, which is what happened to my friend."

His friend was Jerome Modroo, who was caught with drugs along side with Wes. As a punishment, Wes chose to go to Drug Court, Modroo decided to go to prison. The day Modroo got out of prison he went right back to using pills and died.

"You can punish people into staying clean and sober, which does not work," says Addiction Rehabilitation Association Program Director Jared Vineyard. "Putting them in prison and then letting them out again with nothing to follow up, nothing to help them out with the addiction. Time after time, study after study has demonstrated [prison] being ineffective."

"I'm just so frustrated and fed up with what's happening to my friends and family, loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers," says Kelsey Elkins, Wes' wife. "I've had several friends who have lost their life to pain killers."

Kelsey did not want to see her husband also die from abusing OxyContin and using other pharmaceuticals.

"OxyContin is synthetic heroine ,basically, and it grabs you by the horns and slowly takes everything away from you," says Wes.

But Wes didn't want his life taken away. He entered into Drug Court, an intense rehabilitation program supervised by trained drug counselors, instead of the other option of going to jail

"Those guys are all concentrated in a cell block [in prison]," says Vineyard. "And when you come out, you're better able to get the drug you had before and you have more information on how you can get around the law, how to fraud pharmacies and doctors better than you were before. For people who really don't have a criminal behavior of thinking it's really kind of a training ground for them to get better at doing what they do."

Drug court is not free. Wes says he paid about $100 per month for two years. He says it was worth the money instead of just heading to prison for using drugs."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Family Drug Court-A good idea~!

Getting families involved in their kid's drug court situations is a top notch idea in my book. For one thing, the better informed parents are about drug use, and how to cope with their child's problems, they more able they'll be to assist in their recovery. Going through drug court successfully takes determination and stick-to-it-ive-ness. Parents can help bolster a child's ability to cope with the process, by their presence and encouragement.

Council to discuss family drug court

Monday, February 8, 2010 10:06 AM CST

"Alan D. Allbee, associate juvenile judge for the First Judicial District of Iowa, would like to start a family treatment drug court and is requesting the city’s permission to use council chambers at city hall for drug court hearings on Tuesday afternoons after magistrate court concludes. The mayor’s office would be utilized for staffing of professionals.

In a letter to the city Allbee said the drug court clients would be parents involved in child in need of assistance cases in Fayette County who live in Oelwein and have substance abuse as a major problem.

He said the Oelwein satellite court would be easier for local clients to access since weekly court attendance is required and many do not have valid driver’s licenses. It would also be beneficial since the attorneys who practice in both magistrate and juvenile courts would be in the vicinity. Allbee said there is no cost to the city associated with his request and he hopes to start the treatment court this summer. The council will have a discussion on this request."

Monday, February 1, 2010

DUI"s In Drug Court
Sunday, January 31st, 2010

CANYON COUNTY — "Only a year ago, if a defendant pleaded guilty to a felony DUI in Canyon County, he essentially had two options: prison or probation. Prison provides punishment, but does it offer sufficient treatment for rehabilitation? Probation provides a certain level of treatment, but with overwhelming caseloads, could offenders get lost in the shuffle, or get away with continued substance abuse?

On Jan. 12, 2009, Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak decided that felony DUI offenders should be given another option: drug court. Though once a skeptic of the alternative, community treatment-based program, Bujak said data shows the program brings good and lasting change for offenders and society.

What is drug court?

Caldwell teacher's case

Caldwell High School teacher Jon Kelpin, who was arrested for felony DUI on May 31, 2009, began drug court on Dec. 18, 2009, after pleading guilty to the felony. Judgment is withheld on that charge, and if Kelpin successfully completes drug court, that case will be dismissed. The case can still be used for prosecution purposes in the future if he reoffends.

Kelpin's license is suspended, and he has been in custody at the work release center in Caldwell. He could receive a restricted driver's permit after 45 days per Idaho law.

Kelpin also received a withheld judgment for misdemeanor DUI on July 13, 2007, and was convicted of a misdemeanor DUI on Jan. 17, 2008.

Kelpin's defense attorney, Charles Crafts, said he believes his client is well suited to be successful in drug court.

"Kelpin, by all accounts, is this incredibly responsible person with this one aspect of his life that has gotten away from him a little bit. I think his personality and the fact that he's been (teaching) for 30 years, he certainly lends himself to be more successful in the program because it requires such a high degree of responsibility," he said.
*Editor's note: List of DUI offenders removed from this article. May be seen by clicking on Title.

DUIs in Idaho

• In 2008, there were 167 felony DUIs filed in district court and 1,307 misdemeanor DUIs filed in magistrate court in Canyon County. Statewide, 12,655 felony and misdemeanor DUI cases were filed in district court.

• 640 DUI offenders participated in Idaho problem-solving courts in fiscal year 2009.

• In 2008, 91 offenders graduated from Idaho DUI courts — 90 percent of those who left the program.

• 576 offenders graduated statewide from drug and mental health courts in 2009, up from 425 graduates in 2008.

• In FY 2009, 1,492 adults in Idaho entered into a drug court program. Of those, 1,293 graduated from or remained in drug court and mental health court; 199 did not successfully complete the programs.

• Information provided by Norma Jaeger, Idaho's director of problem-solving court and community sentencing alternative. Information provided by Norma Jaeger, Idaho's director of problem-solving court and community sentencing alternative.

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Drug court is a problem-solving court that aims for holistic rehabilitation for criminal drug addicts and alcoholics. Canyon County's drug court only accepts felony-level offenders, although other courts in the state also handle misdemeanor crime.

Canyon County has several problem-solving courts, including mental health court, youth court and truancy court. These courts, which use community treatment, are more cost effective than imprisonment, according to Norma Jaeger, Idaho's director of problem-solving court and community sentencing alternative. According to 2007 data, the average felony drug court offender costs $6,836 per year, while the average prison inmate costs $20,382.

It also helps ease the overcrowding of the regular courts and prisons, Jaeger said. About 1,500 people were in program-solving courts in 2009. Without that option, most of them would have been incarcerated, she said.

Idaho Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, who earned the Idaho Drug Court Leadership Award in 2006 for her work with the specialty court, said the program is a cost-effective and beneficial option for taxpayers.

"If we can save taxpayer money and create an accountable citizen ... I'd rather have them there than in jail where they're not learning to be accountable," Lodge said. "(It's) one of the most cost-effective ways to process people and bring them back into society as productive citizens. Drug courts work; I'm totally supportive."

Who goes to drug court?

Idaho law limits who is eligible for drug court: no violent offenses or crimes with gun use and no sex offenses. When a defendant fits within the legal criteria, Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Chief of Staff Tim Fleming, who screens all drug court applicants for the county, looks for other indicators of a potential good fit.

"If a person is ready and willing and able to accept responsibility, waive their defenses and is ready to deal with their addictions" they make a good candidate, Fleming said. He also weighs whether the person needs the intense level of treatment drug court provides, or if he or she could successfully complete a regular probation, which has less intense accountability.

Jaeger said drug courts initially targeted first-time offenders, but as data was collected, the court changed its focus.

"Drug courts are most effective for higher risk, in terms of addiction and more significant criminal or offense histories," Jaeger said. "Research shows people with a first or second offense generally do as well on (regular) probation. It's the harder core that requires the significant structure and regular accountability that drug court provides to have positive outcomes."

Carrots and sticks

Drug court is rooted in the method of rewards and sanctions — carrots and sticks, Fleming calls it. In drug court, participants' judgments are withheld — if they graduate from the program, the case is dismissed. This dismissal is the ultimate carrot drug court participants work toward, Fleming said.

Magistrate George Southworth, the current presiding judge of drug court, volunteers his time to take on the additional 70-plus drug court cases — without a reduction in his regular caseload. Each week, he reviews the defendants' progress in court.

There are punishments for offenders who don't follow the rules: everything from essay-writing to jail time and even expulsion from the program. But Southworth said that drug court participants come from all walks of life and backgrounds — for some, this is the first time in their life they are required to follow a set of established rules.

"We don't kick somebody out of drug court until we've given them every chance to comply. They don't change overnight," he said.

However, drug court is not designed to be a walk in the park.

"It's much more strenuous, more difficult," Fleming said of drug court compared to regular probation. "It's not a slap on the hand."

For Canyon County DUI offenders in drug court, Southworth mandates 90 consecutive days in jail or work release, triple the minimum time required by law.

"People in drug court are not pampered. They realize this is a serious crime. We take it seriously," Southworth said.

Another carrot, approved by Idaho lawmakers last year, is a restricted driver's permit, which can be issued to a drug court offender after a 45-day license suspension. Outside drug court, offenders lose their licenses for at least one year.

Southworth said with Idaho's lack of public transit, it's hard to expect defendants to make all of their counseling sessions, alcohol testings, court appearances and probation meetings if they can't drive.

A violation of driving privileges automatically boots offenders out of the program, and they will be resentenced in regular court. Fleming said it often means prison time for the offender.

Does it work?

Both national and local statistics show that, whether it relates to drugs or alcohol, recidivism is lower among offenders who complete drug court compared to those who go to prison or are on regular probation, Fleming said.

According to a 2008 study submitted to the Idaho Legislature, Idaho DUI offenders are half as likely to reoffend after completing DUI court versus completing regular probation.

High-risk offenders who don't receive treatment through drug court either tend to not follow through with treatment, drop out or fail to follow conditions of probation, Jaeger said. But in drug court, "they stay in treatment long enough, are held accountable consistently and regularly enough to really change their behavior," Jaeger said. "The treatment effect is more than skin deep."

"Drug court — it gets right to the heart of the problem. They are there to treat people and help them overcome their addictions, period," defense attorney Charles Crafts said.

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And treatment also deals with more than the person's addiction.

"It's really focused on all the characteristics that makes a person pro-social, less likely to have attitudes toward committing crime ... not just abstaining from the use of alcohol," Jaeger said.

She said it's common for repeat DUI offenders to have other attitude adjustments to make.

"They think, 'Well, I can drink, I just need to be more careful, make plans to not drive.' When they do drink, their judgment becomes impaired. The decisions they make in that condition are not good decisions."

Another benefit to rehabilitation through problem-solving courts, Jaeger said, is that offenders can keep social supports.

"Having a job, having a family, taking care of your bills are protective factors, assets in making a recovery," Jaeger said. "Those social supports are important in making lasting behavior change. The more supports that you can keep for a person, the greater likelihood that they can establish a lasting recovery."

Crafts said the community-based treatment in problem-solving courts is a "progressive-thinking model" for rehabilitating offenders.

"I think that we have a tendency when someone gets in trouble to just turn around and want to punish them," Crafts said. "Drug court — it's definitely a punishment to be in drug court, but they do build in these motivations for people to be successful in the program. ... It's much more of a progressive-thinking model of rehabilitation."

Some voice concern

Miren Aburusa, victim advocate with Idaho's Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said her agency supports the use of drug courts "post adjudication," but is concerned that judgments are withheld and, upon graduation, dismissed for DUI offenders in drug court.

"I don't think it should be used to avoid a record of conviction or license sanctions," Aburusa said. "There's close supervision, lots of interaction, I think that's a success ... I don't think it should be used as an opportunity for someone to clear their record."

Aburusa also said she fears not having a record of conviction could lead to fewer restrictions for defendants who reoffend because a judge wouldn't know about past offenses.

But Fleming said withheld judgments are still fare game for charging enhancements on any future charges. By law, if a felony DUI drug court graduate gets another DUI within 15 years, it's a felony charge, Fleming said.

"If the concern is that the state can't hold them accountable in the future, they're wrong. We can," he said.

Aburusa also said she wants to see Idaho mandate ignition interlock devises — 11 states require this — rather than just license suspension.

"I don't think that license suspension is the answer," she said. "We support mandatory interlock on all drivers. Someone who's had their license revoked, it doesn't stop them from drinking and driving, but if we can get an interlock, that saves lives."

Lodge said she thinks a mandatory interlock law has merit, but she would want to know where funding would come from.

"We can't have one more thing that's costing the taxpayers more money," she said.

'Drug courts work'

Because the DUI participants are a new addition to Canyon County, none of them has graduated from the program yet. Fleming said the program typically takes about 18 to 24 months to complete.

Bujak said when he first learned of drug courts more than a decade ago, he was skeptical.

"I thought it was a terrible idea," Bujak said. "I remember hearing about drug court and thinking it was 'hugs for thugs,' a reward for people breaking the law."

But Bujak said as data began to support the real, positive change drug court makes for offenders, his mind changed.

"Drug courts work, and I support them wholeheartedly," he said.

As a defense attorney, Bujak said he would often work to get his clients into drug court. But he said some who weren't prepared to give up their drug addictions balked at the thought of going.

"They'd say, 'I don't want to do drug court, it's too hard,'" he said.

Crafts said about half of the people he talks to about drug court are hesitant to participate because they think it's too difficult to complete. Nevertheless, he recommends drug court for every client who is eligible "in any way shape or form," and applauds Canyon County's move to include DUI offenders in its program.

"I give a lot of credit to John Bujak for putting people into drug court with DUIs," Crafts said. "I think that kind of progressive thinking, to me it's a no brainer. ... Some counties choose not to do that, some do and I'm glad that he's made that option available."

Fleming agreed.

"This office very much believes in specialty courts, because the data supports them," Fleming said. "Communities that have drug courts are safer communities than those who don't."

Sentenced on felony DUI in drug court

• Judgment: Defendant pleads guilty to a felony and judgment is withheld. If the defendant is referred from a felony probation violation or comes from a retained jurisdiction (Rider) program, conviction has already been entered and judgment will not be withheld.

• Jail/prison time: Mandatory 90 consecutive days in jail or, if employed, work release. Additional discretionary jail time of 180 days, and judge can add more if needed.

• Probation: Lasts for three years. Ends when defendant graduates from program. The average person graduates after 18 to 24 months.

• Driver's license: Suspended for three years. Can receive a restricted driver's permit after 45 days per judge's discretion. Restricted permit requires interlock device installation, and participants must be current with fees and insurance. Permit may be revoked if defendant violates permit requirements or fails to comply with other drug court mandates.

• Fees: $40 per week, plus probation supervision cost of $25 a month (about $3,330 to $4,440 total, on average). Judge can implement sanctions if a participant falls behind.

• Testing: Check in by phone each morning for potential testing. Required two tests per week, average of three times a week for new participants. Substance abuse tests and breath tests. Also may be randomly tested by probation officer on home visit or office visit.

• Treatment/counseling: Must attend at least three AA meetings a week. Must attend 200 to 250 hours of group and individual counseling through the course of the program. New participants attend counseling at least two to four times a week.

• Other requirements: To graduate, offenders must have a GED or high school diploma, maintain full-time (35 hours or more) employment for one year, remain sober for 180 consecutive days, pay fees and costs in full and complete an extensive community service project approved by the judge. Unemployed participants are required to do 20 hours a week of community service until they gain employment. Participants also take social classes (like budgeting class), family group sessions and attend alumni group.

• Contact with court, probation officer: Appear in court once a week. Check in with probation officer at least once a week. Officer can make additional appointments through office visits or house calls.

• Last step: Felony charge is dismissed once participants graduate from the program. Defendants whose judgment was withheld do not have a conviction on their record.* Defendants who entered the program on a felony probation violation will go to unsupervised felony probation or discontinue probation; those cases are not dismissed and defendants retain convictions. Civil rights suspended during judiciary process are reinstated.

* Although cases are dismissed, they are still considered for future charges and can be used for charging enhancement purposes. According to Idaho Code 18-8005, if a person received a withheld judgment on a felony DUI and gets another DUI within 15 years, the new offense will automatically be charged as a felony.

Sentenced on felony DUI in regular court

• Judgment: Pleads guilty to a felony and is either convicted and sentenced to prison, prison with a retained jurisdiction (Rider) or to probation, or judgment is withheld and the defendant goes on probation.

• Jail/prison time: Minimum 30 days in jail, 48 consecutive hours. Maximum 10 years in prison.

• Probation/parole: Up to 10 years

• Driver's license: Suspended one to five years after release from incarceration. Interlock device installation after mandatory suspension ends and during any remaining probation time, per judge's discretion. Must have proof of insurance to drive while on probation.

• Fees: Fined up to $5,000

• Testing: No required testing. Typically judge authorizes probation officer to assign testing.

• Treatment/counseling: No required treatment or counseling. Typically judge authorizes probation officer to assign treatment or counseling.

• Other requirements: No required classes. Typically judge authorizes probation officer to assign classes.

• Contact with court/probation officer: DUI probationers are usually placed on high-level probation. No required court appearances. Two separate contacts with probation officer a month, at least one of which is face to face. One home visit every three months; must visit within 30 days of a change of address. One employment verification every three months; must verify new employment within 30 days of job change. One treatment verification every three months; officers usually receive updates once a month or even once a week from treatment providers.

• Last step: If the defendant received a conviction, was placed straight on probation and complied with the terms and conditions of probation at all times, a judge can dismiss the case. Civil rights suspended during judiciary process are reinstated. If the defendant received a conviction, completed a Rider, then complied with the terms and conditions of probation at all times, a judge could amend the felony charge to a misdemeanor. Contact with court/probation officer: DUI probationers are usually placed on high-level probation. No required court appearances. Two separate contacts with probation officer a month, at least one of which is face to face. One home visit every three months; must visit within 30 days of a change of address. One employment verification every three months; must verify new employment within 30 days of job change. One treatment verification every three months; officers usually receive updates once a month or even once a week from treatment providers.

• Last step: If the defendant received a conviction, was placed straight on probation and complied with the terms and conditions of probation at all times, a judge can dismiss the case. Civil rights suspended during judiciary process are reinstated. If the defendant received a conviction, completed a Rider, then complied with the terms and conditions of probation at all times, a judge could amend the felony charge to a misdemeanor."