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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2006
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Lawrence community corrections gets funds

By Kristen Bishop
DAILY Staff Writer

kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — Judge Philip Reich told the Lawrence County Commission on Monday that the county can save money in jail costs by giving more to county community corrections and drug court.

County commissioners agreed with Reich and approved $34,000 from the General Fund for the programs during the annual budget hearing Tuesday

Reich was the main supporter of the drug court, an alternative to sentencing for convicted drug offenders, when it was established last October.

He said 85 to 90 percent of offenders who participate in the program do not repeat their offenses.

Participants are routinely tested for drugs, monitored and are required to pay restitution fees, fines and court costs.

"Community corrections and drug court are designed to have everyone in the program off drugs, out of jail and working, and paying what they need to be paying — child support, debts, court costs," said Reich. "The people sitting in jail are costing us (the county) money."

The county paid initial fees to start the drug court last year but do not have an annual budget for the program. Commissioners approved a one-time fund to be reviewed annually.

"We've got to do something about the drug problem," said Chairman Barkley Lentz. "We will fund it for one year and see where we need to go from there ... perhaps state funding."

Reich said currently there are about 150 participants in the Lawrence County community corrections and drug court programs.

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