Drug and Alcohol Diversion Program
In 2001, 25 percent of the indictments handed up by the Howard County Grand Jury were felony drug cases.
The State’s Attorney’s Office response to the drug problem have been vigorous prosecution, referrals to drug treatment programs and support for drug prevention programs. At the Circuit Court level, where felony drug offenders are prosecuted, the State’s Attorney’s Office has targeted those who are repeat offenders for severe sanctions. At the District Court level, where misdemeanor drug cases are heard, the Office advocates for drug abuse assessment and treatment for all whom it is appropriate. The Office has initiated a Diversion Program by which first offenders for minor possession offenses receive early intervention and treatment instead of trial.
The DUI/Drug Court is a distinct court system dedicated to changing the behavior of alcohol/drug dependent offenders arrested for DUI. This Court utilizes prosecutors, defense attorneys, the drunk driver monitor program, and law enforcement along with alcohol/drug treatment professonals for a team-oriented approach to systematically change participant behavior.
The significant problems presented by drug abuse in Howard County cannot be eliminated by law enforcement alone. The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office also advocates and participates in several county-wide drug prevention programs. To this end, an Assistant State’s Attorney serves on the Alcohol & Drug Advisory Board.
Drug and Alcohol Diversion Program
The Drug and Alcohol Diversion Program of the State's Attorney's Office was created to reduce the amount of time and effort spent in trying comparatively minor drug and alcohol cases, thus saving limited resources for more severe criminal cases.
This Program handles only first time offenders 18 years of age and older who are charged with simple possession of marijuana or minor alcohol offenses. It is designed to give offenders the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction or a jail sentence. Driving While Intoxicated or Under the Influence cases are not included in the Program.
After an eligibility screening, the accused are offered the chance to accept drug or alcohol education or treatment. If they do, then cases are removed from an active criminal status and made "inactive." Upon successful completion of the Program, the case is dismissed, thereby allowing the accused to clear his or her police and court records. If the accused does not successfully complete the program, the case is made active and scheduled for trial.
By the diversion of appropriate cases into treatment, the Program improves the operational effectiveness of the court process by providing early diagnosis of drug and alcohol related problems, providing education or treatment for those problems and offering an alternative to incarceration for the accused who pose no danger to the community.
To guarantee a high quality of service to Diversion Program participants, the State's Attorney's Office holds periodic meetings with treatment providers and other agencies that provide services to participants.
The State's Attorney's Office, working with the Howard County Police, the Department of Corrections, the Sheriff's Department and the Health Department, created the Alcohol Citation Diversion Program. This program expanded the scope of the Diversion Program by not only providing drug and alcohol education but adding a community service component in order to have offenders "give back" to the community.