Pubdate: Sun, 29 Jul 2012
Source: Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, IL)
Copyright: 2012 Southern Illinoisan
Author: D.W. Norris


MURPHYSBORO -- Sometimes it's the small successes.

Jackson County's drug court has been up and running for three months, 
and the program's lone participant is meeting all his requirements.

"So far, he is clean as a whistle, and not only has he tested clean 
and done all the things that are required through drug court and to 
probation office, he has become employed and has so far been very 
successful. It's a wonderful a thing," said Judge Charles Grace, the 
man who oversees the program.

With nine more slots open, the program has room for growth. However, 
qualifying for drug court is difficult.

The program focuses on non-violent offenders with addictions to 
heroin or opiates such as prescription drugs.

Participants must admit they have a drug addiction, enter into a drug 
treatment program and submit to drug tests three times a week for up 
to nine months. They must also face at least 30 days in jail.

Grace, Jackson County State's Attorney's Mike Wepsiec's office, 
Public Defender Peggy Degan's office, and the Jackson County branch 
of the first circuit's probation office must approve candidates 
before they are admitted.

"It's not for everybody. It's not intended for the dope dealer," 
Wepsiec said. "It's intended for an individual who, because of his 
addiction to controlled substances, has repeatedly run afoul of the 
law, and who, but for an addiction to drugs, could be a law-abiding, 
productive citizen.

"It's kind of a last-gasp attempt for them to rectify behavior with 
the help of supervision of court to get back on the right path."

The program is underwritten in part by a $4.75 fee attached to guilty 
pleas or convictions. As of Friday, the program collected about $2,100.

Program participants are also required to pay for drug tests, which 
lowers costs to the county and court system.
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