Drug court needs $317,189


The CNMI Judiciary has submitted a budget request of $317,189 to establish and fund a drug court on island.

In a Nov. 24 letter to the Senate and House, the Judiciary breaks down the funding needed for personnel and operating costs for a drug court that has been described as a common sense solution to drug addiction in the Commonwealth.

“No higher amount of due diligence could have been sought in timely preparing this budget proposal,” Chief Justice Alexandro Castro and Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja wrote.

The Judiciary requests $160,000 to cover wages and salaries of four full-time employees.

For fiscal year 2016, the drug court will need to hire a caseload coordinator/treatment professional, a probation officer, and two certified caseworkers.

The drug court will supplement these services with treatment providers of the CNMI Community Guidance Center.

Held in four phases of varying week-lengths, the program will be a yearlong intensive treatment regimen for those suffering critical addiction.

The program, with the help of enforcement agencies, plans to screen candidates for eligibility into the program, soon after arrest.

They need to screen candidates for two reasons: one, candidates who do not suffer from a high degree of drug use severity do not benefit from an intensive treatment environment. Secondly, candidates with major health problems are likely to experience severe difficulty in completing the program, the Judiciary notes.

The most effective program identifies those individuals “who pose a threat to public safety” where intervention will address both drug use and criminality.

After screening, specialists will determine how suitable candidates are to specific types of services and treatment.

As part of the program, participants will attend self-help sessions that teach coaching, employment, hospitality and family-based skills like child rearing, marriage, and acknowledging authority figures.

At each drug court session, caseworkers will explain each participant’s progress based on random and observed drug testing done by the drug court probation officer.

If these fail, the drug court will administer sanctions like reducing curfew time, increasing the number of drug tests, or termination from the program, among others.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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