Judges typically have two options when sentencing drug crimes: prison or probation.
But next month, Ellis County in western Kansas is opening Kansas’ 13th drug court in Hays.
District Judge Glen Braun, who will oversee the court, said drug courts allow judges to refer offenders for treatment.
“We spend a lot of money in the state of Kansas incarcerating people,” Braun said. “But when they come out of prison many times they have the same addiction problem that they had going in, so they become repeat offenders.”
He said that while drug courts have been a largely-urban practice, similarly-sized ones have proven successful in Salina and Emporia. Braun worries though that local treatment facilities will run out of room.
“We have good drug treatment programs in Hays,” Braun said. “But like many areas, they are underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed.”
Braun said the area needs to put more money into inpatient treatment and halfway houses for drug offenders. If not, he said, offenders may have to move or commute long distances to programs outside of the county.
Braun hopes that the drug court will qualify for federal support and that it can eventually expand beyond Ellis County and serve his entire district.