Drug treatment court gets funding boost

By: Andrea Fisher, Great Falls Tribune

Cascade County’s treatment court program received a funding boost to help expand the program.

The 8th Judicial District Adult Drug Treatment Court provides an alternative to prison for possession-level drug offenders.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and District Judge Greg Pinski announced more than $700,000 in funding to expand Cascade County’s Drug Treatment Court on Wednesday.

“Drug abuse is not just a crime, it’s a disease,” Tester said in a media release. “We can’t just throw the book at addicts and expect their troubles to go away. That’s why these initiatives are so important and effective – they don’t just address the symptoms of addiction, they treat the underlying cause.”

The program will receive $300,000 in funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance as well as a $403,254 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The funds will be used to expand access to substance abuse treatment, medication-assisted treatment resources, housing and other resources to lower recidivism rates.

“Drugs affect every Great Falls neighborhood, and taking steps to reduce the growing epidemic is critical,” said Pinski, who presides over the drug treatment court. “These grants will make a dramatic impact on reducing drug crimes, treating addiction, and providing jobs and housing to those in recovery.”

The program is managed by a multidisciplinary team that responds to offenses and treatment needs of participants who have a drug addiction.

“Through Senator Tester’s support of these invaluable initiatives, we’re able to focus on the rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders, reducing recidivism, and saving taxpayer dollars while providing individuals with a meaningful chance at a productive life,” Pinski said.

Tester also announced an additional $300,000 for Great Falls’ veterans treatment court back in 2014 and visited with Pinski and the program’s participants later that year.