Craig Editorial Board, January 2009 to April 2009
- Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
- Jennifer L. Grubbs, newspaper representative
- Collin Smith, newspaper representative
- Marianna Raftopoulos, community representative
- Luke Schafer, community representative
- John Smith, community representative
- Lois Wymore, community representative
Last month, Moffat County Drug Court notched two significant milestones in its brief history - the program's one-year anniversary and its first client graduate.
Although the Editorial Board believes it is too early to call Drug Court in Moffat County - the only one of its kind in the tri-county 14th Judicial District - a success, the board is encouraged with the progress the program has made thus far.
Drug Court is a last-ditch effort of sorts to keep people who have been convicted of a felony and are facing probation revocation, and have an underlying drug problem, out of jail or prison.
It combines the judiciary, prosecution, law enforcement, probation, treatment and mental health communities, which help clients navigate through a series of year-long requirements such as mandatory drug testing, employment, court appearances and treatment sessions, among others.
It is a voluntary program that does not enroll drug dealers or violent offenders, and the final decision to enter a client into the program rests with the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
At its core is reinforcement - those who comply are rewarded, those who do not face sanctions such as jail time.
Board members believe the Drug Court, which currently has six clients, and has the ability to expand to 12, is a worthwhile alternative to the traditional tools used to battle crime and drugs.
It is better, the board contends, to give people who want to escape the trappings of drug addiction and turn their life around a final chance to do so before locking them away, where they become a burden to the taxpayer and face a more difficult road to becoming a productive, contributing member of society.
As said by Michael O'Hara, chief judge of the Judicial District and presiding Drug Court judge, the program is "more about changing your life than avoiding a jail or prison sentence."
The program graduated its first client Jan. 27 and is scheduled to graduate another Feb. 10. The board hopes there are more graduates to come as Drug Court further establishes itself in Moffat County.
Although there are many aspects of Drug Court to be optimistic about, there is one glaring weakness - funding.
No additional money came into Drug Court, meaning the people running the program have taken on further responsibilities than what their jobs originally required, and for no additional pay.
This presents a positive and a negative in the board's opinion.
It means that Moffat County is fortunate enough to have public servants who aren't merely concerned about collecting a paycheck, but who also are pushing for meaningful community change.
It also means that neither local nor state and federal officials have chimed in with the additional funding that possibly would allow Drug Court to expand beyond its current limitations.
The board will reserve calling the Drug Court a triumph until it has a few more birthdays behind it, although members hope as the program matures and its success stories grow, so will its funding sources.