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St. Charles’ Drug Court celebrates 20 years of service

For 20 years, the 11th Judicial Circuit Treatment Court in St. Charles County has provided a life-changing alternative for individuals charged with felonies or Class A misdemeanors related to substance abuse.

Drug Court, as it is commonly known, is designed to help individuals with substance use disorders stay in the community while they get treatment and continue to support their families.

The program requires participants to attend group and individual treatment sessions and community-based support meetings, pay all drug court fees and appear frequently before Judge Phillip Ohlms, who has presided over the program since it’s inception. Additionally, participants undergo frequent drug and alcohol testing, meet with a probation officer, must complete community service hours and attend school full-time or be employed.

“Drug Court gave me the supervision, attention and support I needed. It helped me get through until I could do it on my own. Today, I am happy and so blessed. Drug Court saved my life,” said Megan, a Drug Court graduate.

St. Charles Treatment Court staff
Treatment Court team members include staff from the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, Preferred Family Healthcare, Averhealth Drug Testing, SCRAM services, the local Probation and Parole office, St. Charles County Juvenile Justice, Children’s Services, Rising Phoenix, the Veterans Administration, the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Charles City Police Department. (Source: 11th Judicial Circuit Treatment Court)

Since the treatment court began in August 2000, the program has successfully graduated 1,628 individuals with 11 more scheduled to graduate at the end of this month.

The recidivism rate is just 6% and 40 babies have been born drug-free to participants in the program. The treatment court offers the following tracks: Adult/Drug, Co-Occurring, DWI, Family, Post-Plea and Veterans.

“I am extremely proud to be involved with the St. Charles County Treatment Court,” Ohlms said. “These programs attract people who are not afraid to try new solutions to big problems. The success we’ve had is a direct result of creative prosecution, innovative treatment and dedicated probation officers.”

In 2013, the program was recognized as one of only eight National Mentor Court programs in the country by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. This is the program’s third term as a mentor court and courts from around the country visit to observe and talk with the treatment court team about best practices.

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