Craighead County receives grant to expand treatment courts

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Craighead County will receive more than a million dollars to expand and enhance its adult treatment courts.

County Judge Ed Hill announced Wednesday the county has received a grant for $1,392,552 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The grant, which will be distributed over the next four years, will be used to expand the county's three adult treatment courts (mental health, drug, and DWI).

"Good people make mistakes," said Craighead County district court clerk, Joe Monroe. "We're looking for treatment rather than incarceration.”

Currently the Mental Health Diversion Program only accepts people with a serious mental illness. The grant will allow a second track to be added which will provide services to those with significant mental health issues.

The DWI Court, which primarily serves DWI-III cases, will be expanded to include DWI-II cases.

"Some people might have a mental disorder that they are treating with alcohol or drugs and they're self-meditating," Monroe said.

In the past, if a person didn't qualify for one court there was nothing in place to filter them to another court. Tony Thomas is the assistant to the county judge and said they will also bring in additional mental health professionals and counselors.

"Our goal here is to provide any type of mental health service, any type of alcohol drug service that we can provide to ultimately deal with the problem thus reducing the amount of time they spend in the legal system," Thomas said. 

Hill said court personnel will also begin identifying veterans during the first stages of the treatment court process and create a special docket for them to ensure they have access to the services they need. Currently their status is not known until after services are provided, Hill said.

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