Mark Cozine, county attorney, and Kristal Phillips, assistant county attorney, were at the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to report on the status of the Drug Court program.
They informed the supervisors that the program is having some notable successes in providing alternatives to prison for some individuals with a first conviction of a drug offense.
An offender is evaluated before being recommended for the program. Once on the program, the person must adhere to rules regarding conduct and maintaining employment or there are immediate consequences, possibly including going to prison.
As expected, there are people who fail to meet the conditions of the program and get sent to prison, but Cozine pointed out that offenders who are sent to prison directly are almost guaranteed to fail when they get out. About 20 percent fail the drug court program with about 80 percent succeed in staying out of prison, according to data collected from programs that have been operating longer than the recently-started program in Cherokee County.
For young people sent to prison, the success versus failure rate is about the same only reversed.
The problem is that the future funding of the program is in question. The $79,000 start up grant will eventually need to be supplemented but the state has pulled out of a program in Woodbury County that was a model for the one in Cherokee County.
Jody Haupert from the Cherokee County auditors office, reported on the costs of establishing card or fingerprint identification time clocks to make county employees more accountable as to the time they report to work.
The equipment would not be cheap, about $2,000 at each location plus software. Also, there are some employees, including road workers, public health nurses and deputies who go directly to the work site rather than to any central location.
The matter will be looked into further.