Drug court graduation marches on
By CHARLIE BERMANT
Central Kitsap Reporter Kitsap County Writer
June 11, 2008 · Updated 9:13 AM
Under the threat of losing its funding, Kitsap County Drug Court graduated the largest class in its nine year history last week.
Eighteen people, who participated in the 18-month program as a jail alternative, were matriculated in an emotional ceremony that stretched the 140-person capacity of commissioners chambers in Port Orchard.
With Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof participating, each graduate told his or her own story, with a booking photo shown on the overhead projector as proof of their progress.
This was the first graduating ceremony since the loss, and subsequent recovery, of funding for the compliance officer in January.
After funding ran out, drug court participants approached several local media outlets, with the resulting stories prompting the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council to become involved. The $60,000 needed to fund the compliance officer for six months was then allocated between the county and four local municipalities.
Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said she was eager to kick in her citys share and would have allocated more if requested.
I have been a supporter of drug court for many years, Quade said, who attended last weeks ceremony. If people could come down to Port Orchard and watch a graduation they would understand the benefits.
It doesnt have a 100-percent success rate, but it is a lot better than the revolving door of sending someone to prison.
Drug court, which admits about 200 non-violent offenders a year, requires weekly court appearances in front of Roof, who monitors their progress through direct interaction a far different process than his objective role as a superior court judge.
While the funding for the compliance aspect is still undetermined after the June 30 expiration of the KRCC grant, the approximately $360,000 needed to support drug court itself is more stable, according to Kitsap County Substance Abuse Treatment Coordinator Betsy Bosch. This includes money allocated by the state for drug court that is not used by other counties who do not have such programs.
Kitsap County Superior Court Administrator Frank Maiocco is optimistic about funding for both the compliance officer and the program itself, saying there are several possibilities. He declined to provide details, saying he does not want to report them until they are finalized.
Quade and Poulsbo City Counselor Ed Stern both suggested the next graduation be televised on local access television in order to generate community interest.
Drug Court Manager Cherie Lusk said she favored that idea, but said funding was not available to do so. Stern, however, indicated that he could secure such funding.
The next drug court graduation has not been scheduled, but will most likely be in July or August. The regular sessions, which take place at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday, are open to the public.