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Grant Dollars Create Court Position Helping Substance Abuses with Mental Health Problems

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JASPER COUNTY, MISSOURI -

Jasper County's Court Administrator says the court system and jail are inundated with individuals with both substance abuse and mental illness.
 As part of the nationwide  Stepping Up Initiative, the county received a more than 200-thousand dollar grant from the Bureau of Justice to implement a program to help  solve the problem.

 

Program Participant

"The conversation’s completely   different  and it’s a good feeling."

27-year old Steven Prall on the experience of dealing with a drug treatment court judge to Teddy Steen, whos work as a court services officer helped him into the treatment court system.

 Prall  started using alcohol drugs at 16. which led to opioids  after a car crash then  meth and heroine.
He explained, "Yeah, I was self medicating because I had some underlying issues. I  was using opiates and other substances  to be able to cope with life."

He took a short survey after an arrest seven months ago.
 Steen uses the results to determine if a more detailed  mental health and drug screening is needed so she can connect folks like Steven to recovery services.  Something Steen said can be hard for those arrested to do.

Steen added, "They feel  like they've got somebody that advocates for them and makes sure that they have a chance  at success cause these systems are so, so hard to navigate. And they need that direction."


In just nine months, the program  has worked with thirty  individuals directing them into the appropriate treatment court program. Steen tracks one  hundred  individuals right now, cathing them when they have a readiness for change.

Prall admitted,  "I was completely lost. I was a  mess. I knew I needed help . I knew I needed some type of treatment and  i didn
t know where to start."

Steven is in the Ascent Recovery program, has a full time job and is  showing up for treatment  court.

 

He told Steen in their meeting, And the change I'm doing in my life is just amazing.

The overall goal is  make offenders like Steven successful when they get out,  so they stay out  reducing recidivism.

Jasper County Court  Administrator Erik Theis explained,  "
There's a lot of collateral consequences to incarceration. A lot of people lose their jobs, they're not paying  taxes, they're not paying child support.  They're not taking care of their families.   And the idea behind this program  is to release individuals that don't pose  a risk to the community and give them  the opportunity to get their life back on track."


Steven has a six year old daughter

That's what Im doing this for is to get myself strong enough to be able to be a good father. And be there for her."


 

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