The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 1, 2013

Ashtabula County Drug Court gets new coordinator

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Ashtabula County Drug Court has a new coordinator to help keep the program moving.

Stephanie Belconis joined the Drug Court team Oct. 21. Her position is being funded through a grant the Drug Court program was recently awarded, said Ashta-bula County Common Pleas Court Judge Alfred Mackey.

“We’ve operated without additional staff since the program started,” he said. “(Belconis) will be coordinating the cases and moving them forward more quickly so we can get them into treatment more quickly.”

Mackey said the goal of the Drug Court program is to get individuals into a drug treatment program as quickly as possible.

The Ashtabula County Drug Court was one of five national programs to receive the U.S. Department of Justice Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program Enhancement grant. The program was awarded $126,495 to help enhance the county’s program, Mackey said.

“The grant will provide for the services of the Drug Court coordinator for two years,” he said.

Mackey said after the two years, hopefully the grant will be renewable. The grant will also provide additional funds for substance abuse treatment compliance monitoring tools; the development of a comprehensive outcomes monitoring system; Cognitive Behavioral Intervention-Substance Abuse training through the University of Cincinnati for Drug Court substance abuse treatment staff and other Drug Court team members; and the evaluation of the enhancement project.

Belconis has worked with the county’s probation department for the past two to three years, Mackey said.

“She will be doing something she is very familiar with and working with people she is familiar with,” he said.

The Ashtabula County Drug Court began operations as a special docket court in 2008. Since its inception, more than 70 individuals have successfully completed the process with 83 percent of participants remaining free of additional charges when tracked up to two years after the program.

“It’s important they are seen in a timely manner and get into treatment as quick as they can,” Mackey said. “That’s some of the things she will be working on.”

Mackey said the Drug Court program is a very intensive program.