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County backs drug court

POSTED: November 4, 2013 10:19 p.m.

The drug court in Effingham County received a shot in the arm from the county law library.

Commissioners approved at their Oct. 22 meeting receiving $50,000 in excess funds from the law library to buy material and supplies for other courts, and in turn agreed to provide the drug court with $50,000 needed to continue its operations.

"We see this as a benefit to the community," said Rick Rafter, a Springfield attorney and member of the law library committee. "We’d rather see the money put to use, rather than sitting in a savings account."

The law library committee passed a resolution to pay for superior, state, probate, magistrate and juvenile courts purchases of legal research equipment and programs. The commissioners, according to the resolution, spend approximately $500,000 annually to support the courts.

"I still would be more comfortable with the law library committee coming up with a specific list of items for purchase," said county attorney Eric Gotwalt.

In September, the commissioners approved spending $10,000 out of contingency to fund the drug court. The law library board had passed a resolution to direct $50,000 out of excess funds toward the commission, which then would pass on the money to the drug court for its operations. But the county could not use law library funds to support the drug court.

"That statute severely limits what you could spend that money on," said attorney Mickey Kicklighter. "The way the statute is worded, the law library funds cannot go directly to the drug court. They can come to the county for the purposes allowed and you can provide us funds from the general fund."

Gotwalt added the county has asked state legislators to look into the law that stipulates how law library money can be spent and to see if the law could be amended to include funding drug courts.

"That’s a high priority on the governor’s list and the Legislature’s list," Kicklighter said of support for drug courts.

Kicklighter said the law library board also will explore possible state grants for the drug courts, thanks to information provided by county community relations director Adam Kobek. The grants are awarded quarterly.

The state court also may ask the commissioners about funding for its drug court in the future, Kicklighter added.

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