A Woodstock man and drug addict quietly became a pioneer of sorts in McHenry County Thursday as he was the first person accepted into the 22nd Judicial Circuit's Drug Court program.
After two years of planning, court officials had a low-key opening for the program, for which a federal grant is covering startup costs.
Three others have applied for the program, which is designed to help nonviolent drug offenders get sober through a combination of intensive supervision, counseling, therapy and random drug tests over a span of 24 to 30 months.
Two years from now, when the first class graduates, officials will have reason to celebrate.
"This entire program is based on evidence-based practices," said Dan Wallis, 22nd Judicial Circuit court administrator. "We're trying to decrease recidivism and increase positive outcomes for those regularly in the (court) system (on drug charges)."
Wallis said the program is designed for about 60 participants.
Those who apply can be recommended by a variety of people, such as prosecutors, defense attorneys and social workers. Associate Judge Michael W. Feetterer will oversee the program.
A grant of nearly $306,000 will fund the first three years of the program. Wallis said the grant will cover equipment, drug testing and the salary of a full-time probation officer, who already has been hired.
Kane County has had a similar program in place for years and even held an art and poetry show in September to show the creative and therapeutic expression of the 185 people in the 30-month program.
McHenry officials are confident their program will help addicts recover.
"We've done this right," Wallis said. "It's going to be a good program. This program will make a difference."