Substance abuse affects people throughout the state and across the country. Unfortunately, the disease of addiction may result in people facing serious criminal charges. However, the state has implemented sentencing options, such as the drug court program, to help people charged with crimes who struggle with substance abuse.
Understanding the drug court program may help people facing drug charges determine if they may benefit from seeking participation.
According to the Kentucky Court of Justice, those eligible for drug court include people whose primary issues result from substance use disorder. Only people charged with nonviolent drug-related crimes or drug use may participate in the drug court program.
The drug court combines substance abuse treatment, court supervision and other services to help stop the substance abuse-crime cycle. According to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 30th Judicial Circuit, this alternative sentencing program requires a minimum of 18 months of participation for felony defendants and a minimum of 15 months of participation for misdemeanor defendants.
Participants must complete three phases, which involve the following:
- Random weekly drug screens
- Counseling and court sessions
- Maintenance of court-approved employment, education or training
- Participation in self-help programs
- Maintenance of court-approved housing
- Individual contact with drug court staff
Depending on the circumstances, people may also receive other services, such as anger management counseling, domestic violence counseling or mental health services. Drug court staff may conduct home, school or employment visits during the program to check on participants.
Upon completion of the program’s three active phases, participants must meet certain aftercare requirements to graduate from the program. The aftercare phase lasts for a minimum of six months. During this period, drug court participants must complete one hour of substance abuse education per month, continue to pass drug tests and report monthly to court.
Drug charges may profoundly affect people’s lives; however, options exist that may help them receive treatment instead of punishment.