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May 13, 2014

Drug Court seeks financial help from commissioners

DUNCAN — Stephens County Drug Court on Monday asked for financial help from the county commissioners, but it will have to wait for budget time before seeing those funds.

The commissioners met with Sharon Cain, Drug Court supervisor, and two Drug Court participants to discuss what help the commissioners could provide.

The commissioners expressed interest in providing help during the budget season.

The program has been in existence for about 10 years and more than 200 people have graduated from the program. Participants spend about two years in Drug Court before graduating.

“We have about a 70 percent success rate,” Cain said. “It’s the best program I’ve ever seen.”

Cain brought the funding issue to the Stephens County commissioners because of a lack of funding to keep the program running much beyond June or July. County budgeting discussions should begin around July 1.

District Attorney Jason Hicks also spoke to the merit of the program, noting a reduction in court cases for repeat drug offenders. Hicks sent a letter of recommendation to the commissioners and was present during Cain’s meeting with the board.

“If we can change somebody’s life, we never have to see them again,” Hicks said. “We save the State of Oklahoma a lot of money.”

Dee Bowen, District 3 commissioner and board chairman, said Cain should submit a request during budget time to know how much money the program needs to continue.

Of the money used by Drug Court, about $40,000 covers Cain’s salary, which includes benefits. The two Drug Court participants talked about Cain’s importance to the program and the impact the program has had on them.

The two participants, Chuck and Alisha, will graduate this summer from the program. At the request of Cain, The Duncan Banner agreed not to use their last names.

 Chuck said he entered the program with a drinking problem but managed to earn the respect from his grandchildren and find his family again. He said he never intends to drink again.

Alisha said she lost everything, including custody of her daughter, because of a drug addition.  Drug Court helped her find her way after she hit rock bottom, she said.

“If I hadn’t gotten an opportunity to get into this program, I’d probably be dead,” Alisha said.

 She found a job she likes and has regained full custody of her daughter after going through the Drug Court program, she said.

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