Juvenile drug court reinstituted in W. Ky.

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 9:01 AM

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Officials in western Kentucky are working together restart a juvenile drug court.

Daviess County Attorney Claud Porter told the Messenger-Inquirer (http://bit.ly/QJGBBR) that the city of Owensboro and the county have each agreed to put up $88,000 annually to fund the program, which was discontinued by the state due to budget cuts.

Officials say the goal of the program is to intervene with children before they develop serious substance abuse issues.

Porter says it will be a diversion program for children who would otherwise go to juvenile court on drug charges.

"The program existed before; some of us who were working in the drug court tried to put another program together," Porter said. "We made a proposal to the city and county, which they accepted."

He said between 40 and 50 juveniles ages 11-14 are expected to go through the program annually.

Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly Jr. says local officials will fund the drug court for three years, but hope that the state Administrative Office of the Courts will be able to take over funding after that.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts funded juvenile drug courts across the state until 2010, when they were stopped as part of budget cutbacks.

Porter said the new program will provide testing, counseling and support and help participants "find other outlets for their energy."

"We'll have treatment programs that will be designed, not just for the juvenile, but the family as well," Porter said.

He said officials running the new program will try to be innovative and use creative methods to make sure children follow the courts rules.

"We have several people who have worked with kids this age who have several ideas" on potential consequences, Porter said. "We try not to use detention as a consequence; it costs (the state) a lot of money, and it makes (offenders) better at things we don't want them to do."

Mattingly said city and county governments will get reports that assess the program.

"I, for a long time, have said with every dollar you spend on the front end on prevention, you save hundreds of dollars" on treatment, Mattingly said.

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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