Counties’ drug court to serve as model

FAIRMONT – Faribault, Martin and Jackson County drug court is officially an example of “how it’s done.”

The multi-county drug court recently was selected as one of 10 mentor drug courts to serve as a model for other counties and districts across the nation.

“We were the first multi-county drug court in the state,” said Miranda Rosa, coordinator of the FMJ drug court. “We need to apply to become a mentor, and we were selected.”

Mentor drug courts are selected every three years. Another Minnesota drug court in Ramsey County also was selected.

“Ramsey County was a mentor drug court last time too, and they reapplied and got it again,” Rosa said. “So we have two mentor drug courts in Minnesota.”

Along with the top honor, the mentoring title allows more people who work with drug court to receive training.

“We can send more people to drug court training for the next three years,” Rosa said. “Usually we can only send two, but now we can send four.”

Those who are sent to training are not only drug court coordinators, but judges, attorneys, probation agents and mental health professionals.

The annual training in Washington, D.C., is held by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and will occur in mid-July.

The mentoring status means professionals from all over the country could come to the area to observe and learn how the FMJ drug court is run, specifically as a rural and multi-county drug court. Since beginning in 2006, the current enrollment of drug court participants is the highest ever.

“We have 27 people accepted into our program right now,” Rosa said. “We had five graduates in January, and had two more graduate since then. We also have four to five more on track to graduate before the end of the year.”

Rosa believes a game-changer for drug court was receiving a mental health grant.

“I think that’s where the improved graduation rates are coming from,” she said. “With a mental health provider sitting on the team, it makes a big difference. We’re treating the whole person.”