Public news and announcements are brought to you by the Horry County Public Information Office.
The 15th Circuit Drug Court Program is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in August. The original Horry County Drug Court, now known as Horry County Level II Drug Court, had its first meeting on August 22, 2005. At that time the capacity of the program was 10 participants, though only two were enrolled at the first meeting. Since then the 15th Circuit Drug Courts have expanded with the addition of a separate, less-intense program in Horry County- known as Horry County Level I – and a program in Georgetown County. The three combined programs have a combined capacity of 95 participants, but routinely run over 100.
Drug Court is a judicially-supervised treatment program that targets defendants in the criminal justice system who abuse or are dependent upon drugs and/or alcohol. The Drug Court model has seen great success nationally in providing substance-abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration. By avoiding expensive incarceration, Drug Courts save taxpayer dollars. Drug Court graduates also show a much lower rate of re-arrest that those released from incarceration.
Though substance abuse counseling is the heart of the Drug Court program (participants attend 2-3 treatment sessions weekly), the 15th Circuit Drug Courts also stress employment and stable housing. All participants are required to be employed and to pay weekly fees, which are a large part of the funding for the Drug Court. Participants also must pay restitution to the victims of their crimes.
Though the Drug Court program is very challenging compared to other community-supervision programs such as probation or parole, many participants have met the challenge and completed the program. Since 2005, 236 participants have graduated in Horry County and 34 in Georgetown County. That is a total of 270 people diverted from imprisonment. That represents a savings of about $6 million to the South Carolina Department of Corrections alone.
It is not just the number of graduates that determines the success of a Drug Court program, but the rate or re-arrest - or recidivism - of the graduates. The 15th Circuit Drug Courts have also accomplished a significant reduction in the recidivism rate: before Drug Court, graduates averaged 10 prior arrests, but among the 49 participants who graduated in 2013, there have been no felony convictions and only 5 misdemeanor convictions since they completed the program.
The 15th Circuit Drug Court will hold a graduation and 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Horry County Drug Court on Thursday, August 20, 2015, in Courtroom 3B of the Horry County Judicial Center. The special Court session begins at 3 pm and will feature Senator Greg Hembree as a guest speaker. The public is invited to join the celebration and learn of the accomplishments of the Drug Court.
For more information or to RSVP, please contact 15th Circuit Drug Court Director Candy DeBusk at (843) 915-5695.
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