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Treatment time increased for Drug Court patients

Some Nevada County Drug Court participants will be receiving longer treatment times – a plan meant to improve their chances of rehabilitation.

The budget to house male clients for longer periods at a treatment facility in Placer County was increased from $25,000 to almost $46,000 Tuesday by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

“Basically, it’s longer stays for the more severely entrenched in their addiction,” said Nevada County Chief Probation Officer Douglas Carver.



Studies show treatment times of eight to nine months work better for participants than six months or less, Carver said. Many area addicts going through the court system are sentenced to treatment of as little as three months.

From the time Drug Court started in Nevada County in October 1998 to the end of 2005, 79 people went through, 39 of whom graduated and 31 of whom were kicked out, according to county statistics.




The extra money comes through the state from other California counties that did not utilize their full allotments, Carver said.

The Drug Court program used to include misdemeanor and felony clients. But in recent years, it was changed to deal only with convicted felons with suspended sentences who have to complete drug court or go to prison.

Because participants have a prison sentence hanging over their head, their recividism rate is low, Carver said.

Of the six who graduated from the program from July 2006 to the present, one has been rearrested, Carver said. However, three more participants were booted from the program during that time.

Fourteen people now are enrolled in the Drug Court program.

Though the Drug Court’s graduation rate hovers around 50 percent over the life of the program, those who make it still cost taxpayers less money to deal with than if they were sent to prison, Carver said.

Drug Court participants cost the state $51 per day compared to being in a county jail a $79 daily or state prison at $180 per day, Carver said.

The 14 currently enrolled here represent 93 years of suspended prison sentence time, Carver said. Almost all Drug Court participants have been in prison before and are not looking to go back, Carver said.

Drug courts, a relatively young judicial program, remain controversial.

Proponents argue they reduce the chances of a relapse and are less costly than locking up an offender.

Critics question the recidivism rates, quality of the screening process and cost benefits – worrying about a “revolving door” of offenders.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

The numbers

Dealing with criminal addicts in Nevada County, per person

$51 – cost for Drug Court program per day

$79 – cost for county jail per day

$180 – cost for state prison per day


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