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Friday, May 8th Utah 4th District Court

In celebration of "National Drug Court Month,", the Utah County Division of Substance Abuse will hold a special graduation on Friday, May 8th at the Utah 4th District Court in Provo.

"Utah County has been operating a felony Drug Court since 1998. We have had family and youth drug courts since 1999," said Rosie Jensen, drug court coordinator. "Nation-wide, drug court has been helping individual with substance abuse -- and thereby helping the community -- for 20 years. It is arguably one the nation's most successful strategies for dealing with substance abusing defenders."

Utah County has three of the 2,301 operating drug courts in the United States. Drug courts hear cases of offenders charged with drug-related crimes, placing offenders in an environment where they undergo treatment and counseling. The program is designed to provide added incentives for continue compliance, and work specifically with individuals to overcome challenges. It also helps relieve a congested court system.

"A recent study by the Department of Justice found a cost/benefit of $3.36 for every $1.00 invested in treating drug-addicted offenders," said Jensen. "We have a good, strong court. We have a team of clients, judges, prosecutors, public defenders and the jail to help. And nationally it has been proven that drug courts are more effective and significantly cheaper than the traditional court system."

In Utah County, every individual that becomes a Drug Court client rather than enter the more traditional prison system saves the tax payers on average $23,000. Family drug courts save an average of $18,000 per family in foster care costs, and youth delinquent behavior reduces by a factor of 3.

To date, the Utah County Drug Courts have served over 1,500 individuals and families. Over 40 percent of drug offenders sentenced to probation break the law again and are sent to prison, while less than 12 percent of Drug Court clients re-offend and are sent to prison.

Friday, ten individuals will graduate from the Utah County felony Drug Court," said Jensen. "We are so excited and proud of the work they have accomplished. They will graduate with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to serving the community. They won't just have 'done time,' but really worked to make themselves better."

The Division of Substance Abuse is the Local Substance Abuse Authority for Utah County. The division is responsible for prevention, treatment, and early intervention programs for both youth and adult citizens of Utah County. A variety of treatment programs and services are offered directly by the Division and through substance abuse agencies in the community, including Drug Court programs. For more information on programs and services, please visit www.UtahCountySubstanceAbuse.org