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Goodhue County to open drug treatment court in 2019

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman discusses the increasing drug problems the city faces. During the Needles and Pills discussion March 29 at the Red Wing Public Library, Pohlman said calls for attempted suicide and narcotics arrests have increased over the past five years. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Goodhue County Judge Douglas Bayley speaks to a crowd of people at the Red Wing Library on March 29 for a presentation on drug abuse called "Needles and Pills." Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Goodhue County was awarded a four-year federal grant of $499,469 for a drug treatment court on Wednesday, Sept. 26. This treatment court will serve people with a substance abuse disorder. According to the county, the Goodhue County Treatment Court grant will include drug testing and outpatient treatment.

The treatment court proposal was put together by a group of people working in the county, including: the Goodhue County’s attorney’s office, court administration, the sheriff’s department, the police department, Health and Human Services, and other groups and individuals. According to Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman and Commissioner Paul Drotos, Judge Douglas Bayley was the one who led the group working for the drug court.

“Judge Bayley spearheaded this thing wonderfully,” Drotos said.

Scott O. Arneson, county administrator, wrote in a press release:

“Drug treatment courts serve as treatment-based alternatives to prison. These courts make extensive use of comprehensive supervision, frequent drug testing, treatment services, immediate sanctions and incentives. The Drug Treatment Court team that works directly with the participants includes judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, substance-abuse treatment specialists, probation officers, law enforcement and the drug court coordinator.”

The treatment court application packet laid-out numerous facts about drug courts including:

  • “Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program.”
  • “Nationwide, for every $1 invested in drug court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.”
  • “When compared to eight other programs, drug courts quadrupled the length of abstinence from methamphetamine.”
  • “Drug courts significantly reduce crime a much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.”

This was the second time that the county applied for the court. Pohlman explained, “[the] denial was because it’s so competitive at the federal level, the need is great out there.” The original denial allowed the team working on the treatment court proposal to improve and solidify the proposal packet.

Drotos and Pohlman were passionate about obtaining a treatment court for the county. Pohlman explained that as a department, Red Wing police do a good job of making arrests and getting people to court, but they did not have a way to follow-up with people after being released.

“We needed something that helped the individuals be more accountable, and, over the long haul, created a life change for them that was lasting and meaningful,” said Pohlman.

Pohlman talked about the need for a treatment court in March of 2018 during a series called “Needles and Pills.” In that public conversation, Pohlman explained that the county needs three things to combat the increasing drug problem: enforcement, education and a treatment center.

According to Pohlman, the goal is to begin the treatment court around the beginning of 2019. However, a lot needs to be done before the court is ready to open. For example, solidifying policies of the court and the entrance policy for those going into the drug treatment court.

Drotos wrote a three-part viewpoint series in January 2018 explaining the treatment court need. In the second installment of the series, Drotos wrote:

“Drug court is one way to save some people from falling completely out of the grasp of society, employment and loved ones.”

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