Black Hawk Co. Drug and Mental Health Courts cut at end of June - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Black Hawk Co. Drug and Mental Health Courts cut at end of June

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A program helping non-violent drug offenders stay out of prison and help them on the road to recovery will be cut at the end of June. A program helping non-violent drug offenders stay out of prison and help them on the road to recovery will be cut at the end of June.
BLACK HAWK COUNTY (KWWL) -

A program helping non-violent drug offenders stay out of prison and help them on the road to recovery will be cut at the end of June.

Drug court and mental health court are both specialty courts out of Black Hawk County. Just last week, officials found out there wasn't enough funding to keep them going.

Molly Robles went through the mental health court. She and her son had a strained relationship.

"He would come back here and take advantage of me," said Robles.

But it was a fight one night between the two of them that put her in jail.

"I was preparing to call law enforcement. He took my phone and threw it across the room and then he went outside and called 911. And then they came and arrested me in my own home," said Robles.

Robles said she could have spent 30 days in jail, but instead she chose the Equinox Program, otherwise known as mental health court.

After graduating from the program in eight months, she said she is on the road to recovery.

"They give you a reason to want to stay straight -- not to mention the community resources I have available now," said Robles.

Each week, clients are in contact with their probation officer, treatment provider, and have a curfew, all while attending court once a week to report on their progress.

"It's the most intensive program that was available in the probation structure in Iowa," said Dean Olson, retired defense attorney.

Olson has been with this program since the beginning. He said these specialty courts save taxpayers roughly $300,000 a year, not to mention all the unseen costs.

"They must be employed while in the program, so they were paying taxes," said Olson. "Some of them bought homes. Most of them got their driver's license back."

Olson said he's sad to see the program go because he actually felt like they were helping people.

"The motto of drug court was reclaiming lives," Olson said. "A lot of people were able to reclaim their lives. I'm very sorry that opportunity will not exist any longer."

The funding for the specialty courts came from the Department of Corrections budget. After all the money got allocated to different projects, there wasn't enough money for the drug and mental health courts.

Olson says they aren't sure if the drug and mental health courts will ever come back.

Black Hawk County is one of only a few counties who still have these programs available for offenders.

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