State

Hybrid court for drug offenders saves county money

DECATUR – A central Illinois county is successfully saving money through a hybrid court program that keeps drug offenders out of prison and helps them turn their lives around.

Hybrid courts are becoming increasingly popular nationwide, and Macon County’s program saves up to $13,000 in legal and incarceration costs a person kept out of jail, The Herald & Review reported. The county’s program combines judicial supervision with testing and treatment for drug or alcohol abusers who have landed themselves in legal trouble, including with DUIs.

The first dozen people to successfully complete the program attended a ceremony Friday in the Macon County Courts Facility. Requirements for completing the process include a year of sobriety, as well as finding a job or volunteer work.

One participant who picked up her certificate, Shannon Coefield, became emotional as she told the newspaper about overcoming a decade of substance abuse through the program.

“Look at me now: I got pride, and I got respect for myself,” she said. “Today, I know I am somebody.”

Judge Thomas Little, who oversaw the event, expressed pride himself – in the hybrid-court program.

“You really feel like you’re making a difference in their lives,” he said.

The program, which is funded by state and federal grants, has the money to include 60 participants, 40 from drug court and 20 from DUI court.

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