Hike in Nevada County drug court spending wins approval | SierraSun.com

Hike in Nevada County drug court spending wins approval

Dave Moller
Sun News Service

NEVADA CITY ” Some Nevada County Drug Court participants will be receiving longer treatment times ” a plan meant to improve their chances of rehabilitation.

The budget to house male clients for longer periods at a treatment facility in Placer County was increased from $25,000 Tuesday by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to almost $46,000.

“Basically it’s longer stays for the more severely entrenched in their addiction,” said Nevada County Chief Probation Officer Douglas Carver. Studies show longer treatment times of eight to nine months work better for participants than six months or less, Carver said.

The money comes from the state from other California counties that did not utilize their full allotments, Carver said.

Though the drug court program used to have misdemeanor and felony clients, in recent years it was changed to deal only with convicted felons with suspended sentences who have to complete drug court or go to prison.

Because the drug court participants have a prison sentence hanging over their head, their recividism rate is low, Carver said.

Of the six who graduated from the program from July 2006 to the present, only one has been rearrested, Carver said. However, three were terminated from the program during that time. There are 14 clients currently enrolled in the drug court program.

From the Oct. 1998, start-up of drug court in Nevada County to the end of 2005, there were 79 participants, 39 of whom graduated and 31 of whom were kicked out, according to county statistics.

Though the amount of graduations hovers around ranges 50 percent over the life of the program, those who make it still cost less money to deal with, Carver said.

Drug court participants cost the state $51 per day compared to being in a county jail a $79 daily or state prison at $180 per day, Carver said.

The 14 currently enrolled here represent 93 years of suspended prison sentence time, Carver said, some with as little as two years and one who is looking at 17 years. Almost all drug court participants have been in prison before and are not looking to go back, Carver said.

Drug courts, a relatively young judicial program, remain controversial. Proponents argue they reduce the chances of a relapse and are less costly than locking up an offender. Critics question the so-called recidivism rates, quality of the screening process and cost benefits – worrying about a “revolving door” of offenders.