The U-S Department of Justice is sending Iowa a three-year 810-thousand dollar grant to help pay for mental health services in Iowa’s drug courts. Dale Woolery is the spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “Mental health services are a growing need. They are something that is not always provided,” Woolery says. “Especially in a lot of drug courts where you have offenders who may have a dual diagnosis where they need mental health services as well as drug treatment, they may not be getting the mental health piece of that right now. This grant will help provide those services in those drug courts.” The money will be spread across the state.
“Nine drug courts throughout the state of Iowa, which is most of them…will be benefiting from this grant. These are the drug courts because of that way that they are set up will be benefiting from these grants,” Woolery says. The courts are in Black Hawk, Dubuque, Pottawattamie, Linn, Johnson, Scott, Des Moines, and Wapello counties. The idea behind the courts is to treat the problem to help prevent more problems down the road. “Drug courts generally speaking in Iowa have been showed to be effective in reducing the rate of re-arrest, the rate of relapse, or people who go back to using drugs. And they have shown to be a less costly proposition compared to incarceration,” according to Woolery. “In in general, it looks to be a more efficient way, a more effective way to deal with a lot of drug-addicted offenders.”
Woolery says not everyone who goes to a drug court ends up on the straight an narrow. “But for a lot of drug offenders — especially those who may have a mental health illness as well — it may be a better alternative. We’re hoping that with this grant we’ll learn that if by adding mental health services to drug courts, if they can be an even better investment for Iowa taxpayers,” Woolery says. Iowa Corrections Department director, John Baldwin, estimates about 318 offenders with chemical dependency and mental illness will receive treatment services with the help of the grant.