Pubdate: Wed, 24 Apr 2002
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Huntsville Times
Author: Laranda Nichols
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Youth)


3-Year-Old Program Hurt By Loss Of Money For Therapist, Testing

GUNTERSVILLE - The 3-year-old Marshall County juvenile drug court 
program has become a victim of federal/state budget cutting.

But county officials said Tuesday they hope to use local money to 
keep a limited program going.

Donna Johnson, the county's chief juvenile probation officer, told 
the County Commission the local program will not receive money next 
year from the Alabama Department of Economic Development and Affairs, 
which funnels federal money to local agencies. Neither did any other 
juvenile drug courts in Alabama, she said.

Instead, Montgomery officials allocated the money to other programs, 
Johnson said.

Marshall County is losing money to pay a licensed therapist to 
provide substance abuse treatment to juveniles and drug testing to 
keep them clean, she said. She asked the commission to provide about 
$76,000 to pay for the therapist and drug testing.

In three years, the program has worked with 250 juveniles, and 150 of 
them graduated from probation supervision because they tested clean 
for six months. Johnson said 83 juveniles are in the program now.

''Thirteen- and 14-year-olds are using crystal meth intravenously,'' 
she said. One result of the program, said Johnson, is that Judges are 
''holding the parents responsible for the actions of their children.''

The program started charging juveniles fees from $100 to $400 as 
grant money dwindled, but it is difficult to collect fees from 
juveniles, she said.

District Judge Howard Hawk, who handles most of the county's juvenile 
cases, said the county has been ''light years ahead'' of some other 
counties in dealing with juvenile problems but the loss of the drug 
court program will set things back. He said he and Johnson were 
alerting the commission now that they would ask for more money when 
the new county budget is prepared.

Hawk said he and other officials also will look for other money from 
at-risk funds earmarked for local school systems and Children First 

Chairman Billy Cannon and the four district commissioners said they 
support the program. ''We are going to have to find a way to fund 
it,'' said District 4 Commissioner Tim Bollinger.

Cannon asked County Administrator Pam Gilmore to set up a line item 
for the program when the new budget is being prepared later this year.

In other business, the commission:

Said bids will be opened May 21 at 2 p.m. on work to convert the 
second floor of the Albertville Courthouse addition into a courtroom 
and court-related offices.

Set Dec. 31 as the deadline for county employees with more than 300 
hours of annual leave to use those excess hours. A new regulation 
will allow them to carry over only 300 hours from year to year. Now 
there is no limit on accumulated leave. The new rule affects 10 
county employees, Cannon said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh