Court alcohol and drug program will end

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Dubois County Superior Court’s alcohol and drug program will stop at the end of this year.

The program was geared to get people who got into legal trouble and battled drug or alcohol addictions needed help for those addictions.

That help will primarily come through the community corrections or probation case manager to which the person is assigned.

“There was a separate budget for the alcohol and drug program. So that budget is basically going away totally by the end of this year,” Dubois County Superior Court Judge Mark McConnell confirmed Monday morning.

He told the Dubois County Council about the change during the county’s daylong budget review meeting.

Once a person was sentenced in court, McConnell would refer the person to the alcohol and drug program. The program director would conduct an assessment to determine whether that person had a drug or alcohol program. Once that was determined, the person would be connected to services to help. The director would also follow up to make sure the person was going through the treatment the services offered.

“What we were finding was that people oftentimes were being sentenced either to probation, community corrections/work release or home detention. Their case managers in those settings were also doing assessments and making referrals,” McConnell said. “So we found that there was some redundancy there. There was no reason to continue with both.”

Around the same time of that discovery, the program director, Mike Denu, announced that he was going to retire. He did so in June.

“So we thought, ‘Well, now is a good time to shut that program down,”” McConnell said, “and pass that responsibility over to community corrections and the probation department, to make those referrals. It’s just moving the responsibility, somewhere else.”

The change will benefit the people getting the mandated assessment and services.

“That will save them some money and a step,” McConnell said, “because they were having to pay for another, separate assessment and the follow up. Now it’ll be all part of their case management with community corrections or probation. So they will just pay the one fee.”

It should also be a cost savings for the county. “There will be some savings because we don’t have that office or director’s position,” McConnell said. “There will be some additional expenses that community corrections and probation will have to pick up. We’re adding a probation officer. So there is going to be some additional expense that will go elsewhere. But it won’t be under that heading of that program anymore.”

McConnell thinks the changes will make the system more efficient and work better for the people getting the assessment and services.

“It’s a little more streamlined a little more efficient,” he said. “And they should still get the same services, the same help they need.”




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