The month of May celebrated Drug Court Month. According to HeartlandConnection.com, Drug Court is a behavior modification program that provides an alternative to prison for high risk offenders with drug and alcohol problems. In Adair County, Missouri, the 19-month and 5 level drug court program has been helping individuals get their lives back on track since March of 2003.
Judge Russell Steele of Adair County Second Circuit Court, said, "We tell them coming into the program that we want them to be productive, responsible, and law abiding citizens who are clean and sober. Also, we want them to support their family and get a job. That's everyone's goal." Participants are subject to curfews, drug-testing, and court appearances to help show the judge they are doing the right thing. The judge is not the only one to help manage this program, and the court drug tracker and dog, Jane and Aaron, provide assistance to the judge.
Judge Steele said, "I think that's what makes us unique and adds another resource to make sure these people are accountable and aren't doing things in their home that they shouldn't be doing." Jane Moore, Adair County Drug Tracker, said, "I go out in the evenings, anytime from 10pm to 7am. A client is selected randomly. I come to the house, knock on the door, and I come in. Aaron and I search all the living areas such as bedroom, kitchen, and dining room. Aaron sniffs around. If he indicates, he will sit, and I will search and look. Aaron can indicate residue as well. His nose is really strong. So if it's gotten rid of, the smell is still there to him."
If Aaron does find drugs, Jane and the drug court team then address the issue in court. The problem does not disqualify the participants from the drug court program, but the Adair County Drug Court will take additional steps to help the person succeed. Judge Steele said, "A lot of our participants won't have perfect performances. We recognize these people have a serious addiction problem, and we are going to deal with it."
In the past 9 years, the program has proved to be very successful. Judge Steele commented, "We've helped a lot of people be successful because in a behavior modification program, you reward good behavior to try and encourage more good behavior." Jane said, "It's been great. I've gotten to know the clients, and they are all people and human beings. I'm always positive with them so they can get to know me and be comfortable so the program can be successful for them."
If you know someone struggling with the problems of drug addiction, click here for more information.