Anchorage court to launch drug court program

Posted: Friday, September 01, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A federal grant will pay for a 2-year pilot program at Anchorage Superior Court targeting non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems, state court officials announced Thursday.

The Alaska Court System has received nearly $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to establish the drug court program in Anchorage Superior Court, court officials said in a news release.

The federal funds will pay for a part-time prosecutor and public defender, treatment coordinator, drug testing for program participants and an independent program evaluation.

Offenders accepted into the program will go through intensive drug treatment for up to 18 months. They'll get counseling at least once a week and be tested for drugs at least three times a week.

Participants will be supervised by Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides and others in the drug court team, according to the news release.

Any relapses or other problems could lead to sanctions such as additional treatment, more drug tests or incarceration, officials said.

Based on the premise that substance abuse offenders should be prepared to better function in society, the program will also require participants to get high school diplomas or equivalent if necessary. They'll also have to find steady jobs and deal with medical, family and other issues, officials said.

The drug court approach -- intensive treatment closely monitored by a judge -- has been successful in other jurisdictions in reducing drug use and recidivism among program participants,'' Joannides said in a prepared statement. ''We expect to see the same results in Alaska.''

By a Justice Department count, more than 500 drug courts are operating nationwide, and another 280 are being planned, court officials said.

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