Group to raise money for DUI/Drug Court
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
September 25, 2011 12:20 AM | 2692 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — While the DUI/Drug Court program has seen great success, funding continues to lag behind the demand placed upon the program.

So, the Cherokee Friends of Recovery will be raising money to help. On Monday, the nonprofit will play host to a Varsity lunch in front of the Cherokee County Justice Center in downtown Canton.

The lunch, which will have staples from the famed Atlanta fast food joint, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will cost $4.

The group is also organizing the Twilight Run F.O.R. Cherokee 5K on Oct. 29 at Hobgood Park in Towne Lake.

The registration fee is $25 before Saturday and $30 after Saturday and on race day.

Lynn Epps, the director of the court, said the economic downturn has allowed for nearly 65 percent of participants to qualify to participate with a reduced rate.

“We are trying to maintain the ability to make the cost of the program contingent upon a sliding scale,” she said. “That’s very difficult with the economy and that’s really our greatest challenge.”

The DUI/Drug Court, created by State Court Chief Judge C.J. Gober, is credited with reducing DUI cases in the county.

It coordinates substance-abuse intervention for repeat DUI offenders with judicial support through sanctions and incentives.

It includes five phases of varying lengths designed to help participants gradually transition from frequent to minimal supervision.

The program is open to offenders who live in Cherokee and have been charged with two or more DUIs in the last five years or three or more in their lifetime.

Since its inception, close to 400 people have participated, Epps said. The program has about a 5 percent recidivism rate, which is lower than the average national recidivism rate of between 6 and 10 percent.

This year, a program to curb marijuana addiction was started, which has about 14 people currently participating right now.

Judge Gober said the marijuana program is “designed to get the young people who’ve somewhat addicted out of that culture and that influence.”

Gober said he’s also been surprised and satisfied with the DUI/Drug Court program’s success rate.

He noted six out of the original nine individuals who started in the program’s beginning have stayed active with the program.

He also credited the program’s success with a collaboration of the court system, community leaders and law enforcement agencies.

“It’s just really meshes well together,” he adding Cherokee Friends of Recovery and The Price Counseling Center have also been a big part of getting the program up and running.

For the near future, Epps said she would like for the program to have an in-house testing lab so they can do drug screenings seven days a week.

She also said she would like to have a full-time complaints officer on staff, which would enable the program to conduct at-home checks to make sure the participant is complying with the program’s requirements.

Both of these, she said, would “enhance the program and give you better outcomes.”

Both Epps and Gober said they hope the community will continue to lend its support to the program, as it’s been vital with keeping the number of impaired drivers down to minimal numbers.

“It puts back into the community very productive citizens,” Epps said. “It’s about restoring families to what they were meant to be to begin with.”

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AaronK11111
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September 26, 2011
Wow this is positive usually courts run through destroying families and lives all because of a drug or alcohol.
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