The McDonough County Drug Court has begun operation. It's goal is to keep habitual drug users from going to prison by offering intense monitoring and support to help them beat their addiction.
The drug court will accept those convicted of drug offenses. They will sign an agreement the spells out the consequences for failing drug tests or missing meetings.
Judge Patricia Walton says the program will require cooperation from several agencies. Participants will work with the court, the state's attorney, public defenders, probation officers, McDonough District Hospital Behavioral Services and the Law Enforcement program at Western Illinois University.
Initially, participants will be tested for drugs three times a week. They will meet three times a week with their probation officer and three times a week with a treatment provider.
Judge Patricia Walton says drug court will provide support but there will be consequences for a failed drug test.
She says, “If we have drug court on a Friday and there's a report of that individual had a failed drug test then they will immediately go to jail.”
Minor infractions might mean a weekend in county jail.
State's Attorney James Hoyle says the some drug offenders won't be considered.
He said, “We're going to look primarily at people that are non-violent individuals who probably have a bad criminal history because of their drug use-forgeries, burglaries that type of stuff.”
He says drug dealers won't be considered for the program.
Graduates are expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete the program.
The program will take only a few participants at first. Drug court does not have its own budget. It is funded, in part, by a five dollar court filing fee and support from the state's attorney's office.