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Check-In: Drug Court optimistic for future work

With the lifting of some restrictions due to COVID-19, Compass Drug Court officials are hopeful they will see some semblance of normal soon.

“We’re doing well and chugging along and hopefully we’ll get back in person,” said Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi, who oversees the program.

Compass Drug Court was launched Jan. 28, 2019. The minimum time in the program for a successful completion is 14 months.

The first two graduates of the Compass Drug Court were celebrated in July at the Washington County Courthouse.

Kerenyi said they’ve had several more drug court graduates.

“We’ll bring them back when we’re done with COVID and have a graduation party,” he said.

For the last year, drug court has been held virtually every Monday at 2 p.m.

“I’m not sure when it will be held in person,” Kerenyi said. “I’d like to do it as soon as possible.”

He said they will start in-person as soon as it is approved, and “we may see when other counties start.”

Kerenyi explained meeting virtually means those in the program aren’t able to avail themselves of the biggest component of the program.

“I think they’re struggling more,” he remarked. “They don’t get the personal interaction with myself and the team.”

He said there is more accountability when they have to look him in the eye, even though they are getting the same treatment as before the pandemic.

Late last year, the court received a $500,000 federal grant that will fund them for the next three years.

Kerenyi said the drug court contracts with Oriana House for counseling and drug tests. The contract with Oriana is for 30 people.

If they get a big waiting list, they may think about expanding the program. Right now, there isn’t a wait list.

The grant will be used to fund the Compass program coordinator, case worker, drug tests, electronic monitoring and GPS costs, Eric Brockmeier, Oriana House program manager for correctional programs, said last year.

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