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updated: 9/29/2011 5:03 PM

Drug court program coming to McHenry County

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An new adult drug court program for high-risk, high-need offenders will debut in two months in McHenry County's 22nd Judicial Circuit, officials said.

The voluntary program is funded by a $305,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice, McHenry County Court Administrator Dan Wallis said.

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"This will be the singlemost intensive community supervision program in McHenry County," Wallis said.

Research shows that more than 50 percent of those sentenced to prison are clinically addicted to drugs or alcohol, Wallis said.

"Is prison making people better? Not this population. These folks are the ones who commit a disproportionate amount of crimes, these are the folks who are continuously in the system," he said.

Drug court programs have been shown to lower the recidivism rate to 40 percent, from a national average of 60 to 80 percent, he added.

The program will begin Dec. 1 and will consist of two drug screening per week at a minimum, plus regular meetings with substance abuse treatment providers, probation officers, and court appearances, all for 18 to 24 months, Wallis said. Associate Judge Michael W. Feetterer will preside.

"Some people won't do well with this, they will go to prison; some people will do very well with this," said Wallis, who credited specialty court coordinator Scott Block with putting together the initiative.

Adult residents of McHenry County who have a current nonviolent offense and a diagnosed alcohol or drug dependency are eligible for the program, but will be carefully screened before being admitted, Wallis said. Referrals will come from police officers, public defenders, attorneys and probation officers,

"These people commit a lot of property crimes to feed their drug habit. If we only take drug- or alcohol- related offenses, we're missing the target population," he said.

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