Will County Drug Court awarded $200,000 federal grant to combat rise in heroin addictions

October 5

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that the federal government has awarded the Will County Drug Court a $200,000 grant to provide critical resources for the treatment and rehabilitation of those struggling with heroin addictions. 

The grant was awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which falls under the U.S. Department of Justice. Grant funding will enable Drug Court to increase the number of non-violent offenders with heroin addictions who are allowed into the program.

Will County is experiencing a rise in heroin use that law enforcement and public health officials have described as an epidemic. The Will County Coroner’s Office reports that 26 people died from heroin overdoses in 2010; the number of fatal heroin overdoses already has risen to 21 this year with three months left in the year.

Will County Drug Court reports that 45 percent of its clients indicate that heroin is their primary addiction. This represents an increase of 14 percentage points from 2009.

“We refuse to let the rise in heroin use undercut our Drug Court’s ability to assist addicts who want to reclaim their lives,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “The funding we receive through this federal grant will enable us to enroll a greater number of participants who struggle with heroin addiction and provide them with the more intensive treatment services necessary to free them from this insidious drug.”

The state’s attorney also has joined Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Coroner Pat O’Neil and Sheriff Paul Kaupas in the development of a public service initiative (HELPS – Heroin Education Leads to Preventative Solutions) aimed at discouraging young people from trying heroin.

The Will County Drug Court began in 1999 and has helped more than 250 participants clean up their lives. Drug Court integrates defendants back into the community by helping them kick the addictions that drove them to commit non-violent criminal offenses.

Defendants plead guilty upfront with an agreement charges will be dropped if they complete the program and stay clean. Defendants must remain drug free, submit to random drug tests, find work, follow through with treatment and attend weekly sessions if they are to graduate.

Federal grant funds will enable Drug Court to expand the drug testing and monitoring of participants with heroin addictions. It also will provide day programming to heroin users, including education, recovery support, relapse prevention, nutrition, vocational testing, job skills, and parenting skills. The expanded program also will feature greater opportunities for residential treatment, medication-assisted therapy and support for housing.

Glasgow noted that programs like Drug Court are a value for local taxpayers. For each dollar spent on a prevention program like Drug Court, the state saves ten times the money compared to the costs of prosecuting and incarcerating non-violent offenders.