Pubdate: Fri, 22 Nov 2002
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Jim Todd


Program No 'Get-Out-Of-Jail Card,' Julie Bentley Says

GREENUP - One of the region's new drug courts now has a full-time person on 
the job to coordinate and oversee the treatment plans of those assigned to 
the alternative treatment program.

Julie Bentley of South Shore has been named drug treatment coordinator for 
the adult drug court program in Greenup and Lewis counties by the state 
Administrative Office of the Courts.

Although Bentley's appointment came only recently, she has been involved in 
the pilot program since the first of the year, and working full time since 

Drug courts, in place around the country, use alternative treatment to 
address the high relapse rates in nonviolent drug-related cases. Boyd 
County also has a drug court.

The 12- to 18-month program involves intensive judicial supervision, 
counseling, drug prevention treatment and graduated sanctions for adults 
who have committed nonviolent drug-related crimes.

The drug court's mission is to create a criminal justice environment that 
stops illicit drug use and related criminal activity and to promote 
recovery through substance abuse education and treatment.

Individuals eligible to enter drug court do so by choice, and as long as 
they abide by the rules, do not have to serve jail sentences.

"This is a chance to get straight," Bentley said. "This is not a 
get-out-of-jail-card from Monopoly. It's not a matter of letting these 
people get off - it's intensive probation.

"It is hard. It is not easy to go through this program," Bentley added. 
"But it is a chance for a change, a positive change, and for some people it 
is their last chance or they are going to be in prison for awhile."

The biggest part of Bentley's job is coordinating the treatment of drug 
court participants and to make sure they go to their intensive outpatient 
sessions at either Pathways or its counterpart in Lewis County, Comprehend, 
or Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, where they work with professionals to 
combat their addictions.

"We have 15 in the program right now and we're going for 100," she said. 
"That's the judge's goal and mine, too."

During the first phase of the program, which usually lasts eight to 10 
weeks, participants go to three drug tests a week, three intensive 
outpatient sessions and a minimum of three Alcoholics Anonymous or 
Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week.

During the second phase of the program, which lasts six months, the 
intensity of the tests, outpatient sessions and AA or NA meetings diminish 
to two a week, but can be increased if deemed necessary by Bentley.

During the third phase, which is for four months, the participants act as 
peer counselors and work with others in the first two phases.

"We will have our first two phase-three participants in December, and we 
are excited about that," Bentley said.

If someone fails a drug test or does not show up for a meeting or scheduled 
appointment, they can be placed in jail for 24 hours or longer or be 
required to do public service.

"(Circuit) Judge (Lewis) Nicholls likes to have them do something for the 
public, such as cut grass in a cemetery or some other type of community 
service," she said. "If they mess up, they don't move through the phases as 

If participants don't follow the rules, they can go back and serve their 
jail or prison sentences, Bentley said.

"One person opted to just go back to jail and drop out of the program 
because they thought it was too hard," she said.

Participants who do not have a high school diploma have to take classes 
toward receiving their GED. If they have a diploma, they have to work or 
actively look for work.

Bentley is a licensed professional clinical counselor, which means she is 
qualified to work with those who have substance abuse or mental health 
issues or both. She also is a certified alcohol/drug counselor with 12 
years of experience and a nationally certified counselor in domestic 
violence treatment.

She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Ohio University, 
where she graduated cum laude. Before joining Nicholls' drug court team at 
the first of the year, she operated the therapeutic rehabilitation program, 
a day program for chronically mentally ill persons, in Lewis County.

She served on the South Shore City Council for 16 years and lost in a close 
race for mayor four years ago. She was running for mayor this year, but had 
to drop out of the race after she was appointed to her current position by 
the AOC.
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