Drug court named national model

FAIRMONT – Drug court works. That has been the message of several Faribault-Martin-Jackson county drug court graduates over the years who have managed to turn their lives around from chemical abuse. Now the success of the FMJ drug court is being trumpeted nationwide.

FMJ drug court is one of only 10 drug courts nationwide to be chosen as a mentor court by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. On Tuesday, Carolyn Hardin, senior director of the National Drug Court Institution, was on hand to recognize this honor.

“This is the first multi-jurisdiction drug court to receive this recognition,” Hardin said. “This is one of only 10 recognized. We get so many drug courts that submit to become mentors that don’t make it.”

What this means for FMJ drug court is that for the next three years, the drug court will be a mentor to beginning drug courts or those having trouble finding success.

“They get two free enrollments to that national conference in D.C., they receive a small stipend, and most importantly, they will be used as a training site,” Hardin said. “People with drug courts from around the country will be coming here to observe, to visit, stay and learn.”

Martin County Judge Robert Walker accepted the award on behalf of the FMJ drug court.

“This is an award that belongs to so many people on so many levels,” he said. “The participants, for they are the measure of the success … Our program depends on us assisting the clients. We are asking a lot of them; to give up their friends, estrange themselves from family members that may hinder their recovery.”

Support from county staff to the drug court program from probation, court administration, commissioners and law enforcement also plays a big role. Drug court also has received support at the state and federal levels from state Sen. Julie Rosen and Rep. Bob Gunther, along with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“A big part of that success is the accountability, and we receive a lot of help from the probation department and treatment,” Walker said. “We have what we call Mike and Chad – officers that come to the homes to check on participants, and do random testing.”

Hardin and other officials were on hand to see a regular drug court session Tuesday, and participants also were present for the mentoring court recognition.

“You are in good hands,” Hardin told drug court participants.