Do you REALLY want to fund something the State has said is not worthy of funding?, there’s a REASON for this! – It’s not as effective as it was said to be!
MADISON TOWNSHIP — State funding cuts are continuing to trickle down and affect county programs.
Commissioners heard a request Thursday from Common Pleas Court Judge James Henson and Dave Leitenberger, director of Adult Court Services, for a $30,000 supplemental appropriation to cover drug court expenses through the end of the year.
Leitenberger said the money would cover a 40 percent cut in funding from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services that was announced last week. The state money helps cover the salary of probation officers.
“We were informed last week that the ODADAS budget was cut $5.8 million and that there would be a 40 percent cut in drug court funding,” Leitenberger said. “It was my understanding that drug courts were targeted because they wanted our reaction — and I gave it to them.”
State funding for drug court averaged around $107,000 when the program began in 1997, but was recently averaging $77,000.
The local drug court program was designed to serve about 75 people per year and currently has 170 nonviolent, mostly first-time, offenders. Between 70 percent and 80 percent complete the program and never go back into the criminal justice system.
“These are mostly normal thinking people who are caught in an addiction, and when they get done with treatment they return to being normal people,” Leitenberger said.
Commissioner Ed Olson pointed out drug court costs about $200,000 annually compared to nearly $3.4 million it would cost, based on conservative estimates, if all the participants were to be incarcerated for 365 days a year.
“For the people who say we need to save more money, this is a no-brainer,” he said.
Commissioners said they would review the request around October, after they have a better idea how much money the county will receive from state distribution of casino gambling revenue. Current estimates are between $450,000 and $600,000 for the rest of this year.
“I don’t want to see the program falter, but we’re still tiptoeing through the tulips (financially) right now,” Commissioner Tim Wert said.
News Journal correspondent