The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

October 18, 2012

County considering budget request for new DWI court

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Jasper County is being asked to make an investment in a program to keep more offenders out of the county jail.

Supporters — in the courts and mental health arena — contend that the spending also would pay off by keeping offenders at home and at work, and reducing their future encounters with law enforcement and the courts.

“Sometimes it can be a revolving door,” said Jasper County Circuit Judge Gayle Crane. “We’ll see some (offenders) over and over. We send them to prison, and they come out and come back to us with the same issues, and then we’ll start seeing their kids in juvenile court.”

The County Commission is considering a request from county judges, relayed by Crane on Tuesday, to allocate nearly $190,000 to fund three specialty courts in the county court system.

Currently, a drug court and a mental health court are in operation in the Jasper County court system. The judges want to add a DWI court to make sure those who repeatedly drink and drive are made to obtain treatment. Under a change in state law, those convicted of Class C and Class D felonies of driving while intoxicated must spend 30 or 60 days in the county jail. If a county has a DWI court, the offender can be diverted for a sentence that will include treatment for the alcohol problem.

“It would cost the county to lock these people up, because the state isn’t paying any of the costs,” Crane said. “It wouldn’t solve anything, and they we’d start all over.”

The judges are proposing a budget for costs including a coordinator and two case managers who would work in all three specialty courts, including a new DWI court.

Based on felony numbers for 2011, the county would realize nearly $73,000 in savings — money that would be spent otherwise to keep those offenders in jail. There also would be income of about $67,000 that would be paid by those in the DWI and drug courts.

The county also has a grant of just over $41,000 for the drug court for next year, but Crane told the commissioners that grants cannot be relied on as a source of permanent funding.

“Once we have a full-time court coordinator, they could spend some of their time applying for grants, and court costs will be coming in,” she said. “We hope it will level out and even pay for itself.”

Crane stressed that the programs do not forgive offenders for the crimes that brought them to court. But they do require drug, alcohol or mental health treatment as part of the sentence in an effort to address problems that can keep offenders in the court system.

The office of Dean Dankelson, county prosecutor, is involved in the drug and mental health courts, and it supports the proposal for a DWI court, the prosecutor said.

“Treatment courts, including DWI court, have a track record of being very successful,” he said. “If we can have the defendants suffer the consequences of their action, but keep them from re-offending in the future, that’s the goal.”

The specialty courts are a recognition that alcohol, drugs and mental health problems can lead to criminal behavior, and that those in law enforcement “can’t be the case managers and mental health providers,” said Del Camp, vice president of Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman Health System.

Ozark Center is involved in both the current courts, and both have had positive a impact in the county, he said.

“We know that a significant number of those in federal prison, and even higher numbers in local institutions, are there because of substance abuse or mental health problems,” Camp said. “So the basic idea is to intervene in an informed way and address the problem so they won’t re-offend. They’re not able to evade the consequences of what they’ve been arrested for. They have to plead guilty, and it demands accountability immediately and over the long term.”

Offenders who go through the court can stay home, and stay employed, he said.

“The first report I saw out of mental health court, 25 percent of those in the court were employed, and within six months of participation, that percentage had grown to two-thirds,” he said.

Camp said the county judges’ proposal for a coordinator and case managers to oversee all three courts “will provide the single point of contact that we haven’t had.”

“It will provide a level of oversight that can bring all the elements together,” he said. “In so many cases, the resources are out there. This makes sure they get them.”

Crane, who supervises the drug court, said she has seen improvement in the offenders involved.

“Early on, they were in and out of the hospital, and now that rarely happens,” she said. “If you can keep them on their medications, in jobs and housing, you’d be hard-pressed to know they have been through the system or had these issues.”


SIXTEEN PARTICIPANTS now are in Jasper County mental health court, and 11 are in the drug court program. Jail overcrowding has been an issue in the past year, and costs of county incarceration are estimated at $20 per day.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • 042314 Rec funding Build a Lion_72.jpg Missouri Southern students to vote on new fee, going smoke-free

    Students at Missouri Southern State University will vote next week on whether they support creating a fee that would fund athletic and recreation projects. During the annual student senate-sponsored spring election, students also will be asked whether they support a completely tobacco-free campus.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • New Kansas gun law draws support, some reservations

    At John’s Sports Center in Pittsburg on Thursday, firearms manager Adam Gariglietti said he supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to sign a bill that will ensure it is legal across the state to openly carry firearms. But, he offered some words of caution. “It’s great that he signed the bill,” Gariglietti said. “But at the same time, common sense goes a long way.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Baxter Springs chili feed to raise money for family of girl facing surgery

    On a Sunday morning in February, 9-year-old Izzy Morris woke up her mother complaining of a headache. Teresa Morris gave her daughter medicine. But an hour later, the headache had worsened. “She was in a lot of pain and started screaming and yelling uncontrollably,” Morris said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Carthage budget committee hears proposal for water, sewer rate increases

    The proposed budget for the Carthage Water & Electric Plant, including increases in water and wastewater rates, dominated discussions Thursday night as the Carthage Budget Ways and Means Committee continued its review of proposed city budgets for the fiscal year starting July 1.

    April 24, 2014

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 24, 2014

  • Severe storms possible this afternoon

    A broken line of thunderstorms will continue to push east across Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri this afternoon, bringing a limited tornado risk, and elevated risks for hail and wind damage.

    April 24, 2014

  • Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor

    While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • r042314psumove2.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State

    They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 23, 2014