In the face of a seeming tidal wave of drug problem challenges washing across Marquette County, local officials ranging from courts and police to the county board of commissioners and health care providers are looking for ways to reverse this destructive trend.
One big advancement, we think, is the development of a new drug court to augment the efforts of the already highly successful county sobriety court, which deals with drunken driving offenders.
For the first time in the history of Marquette County courts, the number of controlled substance offenses recently surpassed the number of drunken driving cases.
"The proposed enhancement to our current operations is specifically designed to confront this issue," said Marquette County District Court administrator Charity Mason. "The core objective of the expansion is to take the specialty court program we have in place for repeat driving under the influence offenders and essentially replicate the core components to create a separate, parallel, track for felony level prescription drug addicts."
This week, the Marquette County Board approved a $50,000 state level grant to support current operations of the sobriety court. A U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration grant for $200,000 was also awarded to the county to fund the new court dealing with prescription drug offenders, for the next two years.
Officials are still working out eligibility details, but enrollment in the drug court is expected to begin being offered early next month.
"The need for a specialty court to address the problem of prescription drug addiction in Marquette County has been recognized for several years," Mason said in a recent memo to the county board. "The issue has become progressively more urgent as the level of addiction in our community has increased."
Once the new drug court is in place, the program capacity for the combined Marquette County Treatment Court will be 50 in the sobriety section and 20 in the felony drug court.
With all the recent troubling news on our community's growing drug problems, news like this about the treatment court is very welcome, especially when it involves measures aimed at hitting the underlying addiction issue.