$570,000 in Grants Could Be Headed To Lubbock's Drug Court Program-- Helping to Keep it Going - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/28/05

$570,000 in Grants Could Be Headed To Lubbock's Drug Court Program-- Helping to Keep it Going

NewsChannel 11 has learned the Lubbock Drug Court has received unofficial word they've been awarded two federal and state grants totaling $570,000. Now they're waiting for the official announcement that could determine the courts future.

About 20 participants are in Lubbock's first ever drug court program which started in October. Rather than going to jail or being on probation, participants report to a courtroom once a week in addition to talking with administrators every day, doing random urine tests and community service. The program will continue without the money, but on a very strict budget.

Drug Court Participant, Jeffrey Cotton said, "I've been clean seven months." Since January to be exact. He said one of his biggest lifetime achievements is all because of drug court. "I was never able to give myself the motivation to get it done on my own," said Cotton. "Also, at times when I had tried to quit, I didn't really know how."

Cotton is one of about 20 currently in the Lubbock program, which helps them successfully quit. Participants talk with administrators twice a day, they have random urine tests, and they report to a judge once a week for at least a year.

Nationwide, drug courts have become one of the most viable and cost efficient rehabilitation programs. Court Administrator David Slayton says it costs $2,500 a year to put one person through the program, compared to the nearly $50,000 it would cost in prison.

The Lubbock courts current funding expires August 31st. If they don't get additional funding they'll have to tighten the budget, which is why Drug Court Judge, Drue Farmer hopes the new grants will come through. Farmer says, "Some of these people, this is the only time in their life they've ever had somebody pulling for them and expecting the right thing out of them, so it's very important they have that experience."

One reason the grants are so important is that only two people on the drug court team are actual paid employees and they rely heavily on grants to help keep the program going. Slayton said, "We could continue drug court and we would continue drug court with what we have, we would just have to stretch our resources a little thinner."

He said the new grants would fund a third paid employee, plus pay for treatment for the participants. "A lot of good things have happened to me. I've basically turned my life around," says Cotton.

He's held a steady job for the first time in seven years, when he started using. Administrators said Cotton is proof the program works.

If participants successfully complete the program, all drug charges from the District Attorney's office will be dropped. They should know any day now whether or not they get the grants.

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