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News Item
Wright County Drug Court Celebrates Successful First Year

Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wright County’s adult drug court program, “The Turn,” marked its one-year anniversary during a public celebration at the Wright County Government Center on Thursday, November 16. Judges, court staff, and county officials joined members of the public as the program recognized its early success at helping Wright County drug offenders achieve sobriety.
The Turn targets individuals in the criminal justice system who are at high risk to re-offend and who are also in high need of services to address chemical dependency issues. To support individuals facing addiction, The Turn brings together justice system and community organizations to deliver treatment for chemical and mental health, as well as other services that foster positive change in the participants’ behavior. The program provides strict supervision of offenders, including frequent drug testing and regular mandatory check-in court appearances. The program also stresses accountability for participants, and can utilize a range of immediate sanctions and incentives to foster behavior change. Completing the program takes between 18 and 24 months.
Wright County was awarded a three-year federal grant to support the launch of the drug court program in late-2016. The Turn accepted its first participant on November 3, 2016, and has served a total of 15 Wright County residents since its inception. The majority of these individuals have been extremely successful in the program and have maintained months of sobriety. The first participant has more than one year of sobriety, which he credits to the program and the support provided by the drug court team and participants.
Over the past year, The Turn has provided intense supervision by conducting an average of 52 home visits, 100 drug tests, and 52 court appearances with each participant. 
The Turn also received two $500 scholarships from the Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness Coalition of Wright County, with the money being used to offset the cost of providing incentives for program participants.
“While this is still a relatively new program, we are already beginning to see the positive impact this approach to tackling drug crime and addiction can have on our community,” said Tenth Judicial District Judge Michele A. Davis, who presides over The Turn alongside the Honorable Geoffrey W. Tenney. “Right now in our program, we are seeing several people, formerly trapped in the cycle of addiction and crime, regaining control of their lives and achieving sobriety. I’m glad our community could come together today to celebrate the early success of this program, and I look forward to building on this momentum as we head into year two.”
The Turn is overseen by a core team comprised of judges and staff from Wright County District Court, the Wright County Attorney’s Office, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, the local public defender’s office, and Wright County Health and Human Services, as well as a probation agent from Wright County Court Services and a chemical dependency counselor from Central Minnesota Mental Health Center.
Treatment Courts: A Proven Model
Over the past several years, Minnesota has experienced a significant expansion of drug court, veterans court, and other treatment court programs across the state. Today, Minnesota has 57 treatment courts serving 60 of the state’s 87 counties.
Since 2012, Minnesota has conducted three statewide evaluations of treatment court programs. These evaluations, as well as many other national studies, have shown the real, positive impact of treatment courts: reduced recidivism among participants, long-term cost savings in the criminal justice system, and better outcomes for offenders struggling with addiction, including higher rates of employment, stable housing, and educational attainment.
A summary of these evaluations, with links to complete reports, is available here.