Tester Announces Over $600,000 for Drug Treatment Programs in Havre and Billings

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester today announced over $600,000 in federal funding for two local drug courts in Havre and Billings.

“Our criminal justice system shouldn’t just punish crime, it should help prevent it,” Tester said. “A big way to do that is by rehabilitating offenders, giving them the resources and support they need to become contributing members of society, and that’s what these drug courts do.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester supports these grants that come from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, which provides financial and logistical support to local, state, and tribal entities in order to establish or enhance drug court services in their respective jurisdictions. These drug courts are intended to be rehabilitative alternatives to ordinary legal proceedings.

The breakdown of grants is as follows:

  • Hill County – $300,000
  • City of Billings – $349,253

These two communities will use their awards to, among other things, expand drug court services to unreached populations, enhance existing programs and processes, and provide benefits like mental healthcare, job training programs, child care, and housing placement assistance to program participants.
“We could not afford to run this really beneficial program using just county revenue,” said Michael Wendland, Chairman and County Commissioner of Hill County. “So this funding allows us to keep providing this service to our residents.”

“We’re excited for this new funding opportunity from the Department of Justice,” said Judge Sheila Kolar of the Billings Municipal Court. “This grant will implement a co-occurring treatment court, which will focus on individuals with both mental health and addiction issues. This is the first co-occurring treatment court in the Billings area.”

Tester has been a consistent supporter of drug court and rehabilitation programs during his tenure in the Senate, having visited a number of these programs-like the Veterans Treatment Court in Cascade County.

He has introduced the Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts Act, which would establish and fund similar kinds of treatment programs in Indian Country. In July, Tester voted to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which provides funding and support to combat drug abuse and opioid addiction across the country.