Kitsap County Drug Court secures funding for now

Treatment-based sentencing program can continue at least through the end of the year.

The Kitsap County Drug Court, which provides drug offenders with treatment-based, rather than punishment-oriented, rehabilitation options, has received enough money to fund its compliance officer through the end of the year.

“The good news is that we’re still running,” said Substance Abuse Coordinator Betsy Bosch. “But we will need to keep looking for funds.”

The grant, secured by Bosch, includes $25,000 of federal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Funds (HIDTA), to be used for the Adult Felony Drug Court Compliance Officer for July 1 to Dec. 31.

The funding for the position came from contributions for the first six months of 2008 by the cities, Kitsap County and tribes until additional funding could be secured.

The contract accepting the grant was scheduled to be signed Monday night, at the regular county commissioners’ meeting.

Bosch said that while treatment funds have become more stable, the compliance officer position is not considered part of treatment. For this reason she has needed to go back to the funding well twice a year.

“The compliance officer is an extremely important part of the program,” Bosch said. “He makes sure that people are in stable situations in the community and doing the things they need to do — that is, working and taking care of their family.” 

Earlier this year the funding for the compliance position--who performs many of the same functions as a parole officer--ran out due to confusion about Federal regulations.

The position was unfilled for several weeks, until several drug court participants took matters into their own hands and addressed the local media. The subsequent wave of publicity resulted in funding from January until July.

Kitsap County Drug Court began in 1999 under the supervision of Superior Court Judge Jay B. Roof, who still heads the program.

It is a combined effort between law enforcement, judicial, fiscal and health-related aspects of county government that offers sentencing alternatives to drug offenders.

The program has received universal accolades from local officials. Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer said “because of drug court, we spend fewer resources on healthcare and jail space.”

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel called it “critical for us, and a model that other places are asking to use.”

The program is able to serve 120 people at a time, and is usually at capacity. Participants make weekly visits to Roof’s courtroom, at which time they are asked about their problems and their progress.

Drug Court sessions, regularly scheduled for Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, are open to the public; as are the quarterly graduation ceremonies.

The next ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. July 25 in the commissioners’ chambers. These events, which are often exhilarating and emotional, include each graduate telling his or her own story with a police mug shot shown on the overhead projector as proof of their progress.

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