Drug Court Prosecutor Okayed By Commissioners

SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s drug court will get its own assistant state’s attorney, at least for the next year, after the County Commissioners approved the request Tuesday.

The new, grant-funded position will only last as long as the grant monies. The County Commissioners were adamant about limiting the position to one year unless the grant is renewed.  County Administrator Gerry Mason said he expects the funding to continue.

 “If not, I don’t want to keep this person on,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas.

Commissioner Judy Boggs concurred, saying, “When the grant ends, so does the position.”

The county has been wary of creating new positions, especially after a tight budget season, as they must be funded every year thereafter.

A new assistant state’s attorney will be able to expand the drug court program and make it available to more offenders, said Worcester County State’s Attorney Joel Todd.

“There are people who would be good candidates for drug court who aren’t getting the opportunity,” said Todd. “We have enough room for more people in both the juvenile drug court as well as the adult drug court.”

In the drug court’s 18 months of existence, four different attorneys from Todd’s office have handled the job part-time.

“I’m glad to see the County Commissioners are willing to give this a chance,” said Todd.

The drug court is a court-supervised alternative offered to non-violent offenders who have committed crimes because of drug or alcohol addiction. The program keeps them out of jail and puts them back on track toward an addiction-free life on the right side of the law.

“We should be getting people the help they need so they won’t be taking from society but giving back to society,” Todd said.

The intense supervision and attention of the drug court has been successful for participants.

“We can design a program that works for each person,” said Todd.

The program helps participants kick their habit, find work or finish school, and helps with mental health issues.

Although the program spends a lot of time on each participant, in the long run the drug court is expected to reduce crime, and therefore court time and money.

“It’s not been going here long enough to show an impact,” Todd said. “In other jurisdictions, it’s had a real impact on case load. I hope that we would start seeing a difference after five years.”