The courts of Camden, Morgan, Miller, Laclede and Moniteau counties, under the umbrella of the 26th Judicial Circuit, are among just 22 of Missouri’s 114 counties that do not have an adult drug court.

But that list is about to get shorter, Judge Kenneth M. Hayden told the Lake Sun recently.

Two drug courts for the 26th circuit are in the initial planning stages. One each are planned in Camden and Morgan counties, but these two will serve all of the counties in the circuit.

Hayden said they intend to have the courts up and running, accepting defendants, mid-way through 2017. And all without any additional cost to the five counties or their taxpayers.

Given the circuit’s current resources, Hayden said the plan is to start off small by hosting one day of drug court per month with Hayden handling the docket in Morgan County and fellow Judge Stan Moore handling the docket in Camden County. Defendants from Miller and Moniteau counties will come to Morgan, located in Versailles, while those in Laclede will travel to the Camden court in Camdenton.

“We looked at it within the confines of the existing fiscal plans we had in each location. We’ll be able to do drug court without any additional facility, without any additional cost,” Hayden said. “It will basically be a payer-system – the folks that are in it, the defendants – it will be a combination of them qualifying for Medicare, having private insurance or paying part of that themselves. It won’t necessitate any additional clerks or staff.”

According to the Missouri Supreme Court Drug Courts Coordination Commission, drug or treatment courts “are a cost-effective method for diverting offenders from incarceration in prisons” and “lower the recidivism rate of offenders when compared with either incarceration or probation.”

“Most drug courts involve a four-stage process – first the assessment, what you want it to be and uniform throughout the counties, then you have the policies and procedures in place, followed by securing the partners involved in treatment and supervision of the defendants, and lastly you have to have the prosecutors and defense bars on board,” Hayden said. “Every drug court is a little different. We’re not Jackson or Greene County, we’re not Jefferson City or Columbia. The resources available to us are different from a treatment perspective. That’s why we don’t just jump in, we wouldn’t be prepared.”

As of Nov. 30, 2016, there were 141 treatment court programs within the state, including seven juvenile drug courts, 20 DWI courts, 11 family drug courts and 11 veterans courts with over 4,700 active participants and more than 17,800 graduates since 1993, according to the Drug Courts Coordinating Commission fact sheet.

By Cody Mroczka | Lake Sun