Douglas County is scheduled to launch a pilot Drug Court in January and the program will accept 15 participants. Douglas County District Court Judge B. Kay Huff will preside over the specialty court in addition to her regular judicial duties.
Drug Court is a 16-month, four-phase program for adults who have been arrested and charged with a non-violent felony offense and are having difficulty staying substance free.
Drug Court is a multi-agency team effort that includes: Douglas County District Court, Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, Defense Counsel, Criminal Justice Services Adult Services, DCCCA, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Police Department and community partners.
“By working together, the goal is to provide the participant with consistent supportive supervision and a variety of programs to help maintain a substance-free lifestyle,” said Criminal Justice Services Director Pam Weigand, who also is chair of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
The Douglas County Commission approved $430,000 in funding to start the Drug Court as part of its 2020 budget.
To be eligible for Drug Court, participants must meet the following criteria:
- Douglas County, Kansas, resident
- Admit to substance use and agreement to cessation of use
- 18 years of age or older
- Have pending felony charges
- Have no serious or persistent mental illnesses which prohibits participation in substance abuse treatment
- Resolved all out-of-county and out-of-state charges
- Agree to participate in Drug Court
- Approval of the Douglas County Drug Court Team
Upon successful completion of Drug Court, charges will be dismissed.
Before joining Douglas County’s Criminal Justice Services staff in 2017, Shannon Bruegge was a probation officer for a similar drug court program in Cass County, Missouri. She spoke about the benefits of having a drug court during a Douglas County Commission work session in April 2019. “I saw people’s lives transformed,” she said. “I think a lot of people in the criminal justice system see it as us versus them, and that changes when you have a drug court.”
She described the program as being similar to a coach-student relationship where there’s encouragement, rewards and a sense of accomplishment. “A lot of the clients said to me, 'Nobody ever believed in me and pushed me because they just thought I would fail,’” she said. “When they are in front of the judge, they don’t want to disappoint and they want to show the judge that they can win.”
During her eight years with the drug court in Cass County, she said 80 clients graduated from the program.
Bruegge, who has been the probation officer for Behavioral Health Court, will be the probation officer for Drug Court. It’s a program that means a lot to her professionally and personally. She has a loved one who has struggled with addiction for about 20 years and wishes he would have had the opportunity to participate in a drug court program because it could have changed the course of his life.
“I’m really excited about starting Drug Court here in Douglas County, especially with the resources we have in this community,” she said. “I believe in recovery and I believe our community owes it to the people who can’t get out of the darkness on their own. We need to be the light and to be a resource,” she said.
Information about the program and referral forms will be on the Douglas County District Attorney’s office website by the end of the month located at: http://www.douglascountyks.org/depts/district-attorney/welcome.
Once forms are available, please email referral forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.