By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Circuit Court Judge Jesse Margolis dismissed ongoing efforts to begin a drug court in Curry County during the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) meeting Jan. 10.

In response to a comment made at an earlier meeting saying the court was in an infancy stage, Margolis said, “It is not in an infancy stage. It’s not in any stage.”

Participation would have to begin with other agencies and staff and would require money, Margolis said, adding, “We have other needs to prioritize above drug court.”

“There is no reason to try to turbocharge a car before you put wheels on it,” Margolis said.

He noted the court would require staffing from parole and probation, a half-time person at the District Attorney’s office and would need to involve other attorneys.

“Without this we won’t have a drug court,” Margolis said. “And trying it without money and staffing is a waste of time.”

Curry Community Health (CCH) Behavioral Health Director Erin Porter has been placing drug courts on the agenda for the LPSCC meeting since at least June 2018 but has reported little or no progress. She said at the June meeting she planned to discuss drug courts and Evidence Based Sentencing (EBS) with Margolis after the meeting, if he was not pulled into court.

EBS could be related to drug courts, according to LPSCC minutes, but not directly. Porter said EBS and drug courts were similar because both sentenced individuals based on their circumstances.

The June meeting did not occur, according to Margolis, who said after the October LPSCC meeting that he had not spoken to Porter about drug courts outside of a brief exchange at an earlier LPSCC meeting.

In August, Porter said she had nothing new to report on drug courts.

Porter said the drug court was in an “infancy stage” during the October LPSCC meeting and said she had spoken with Margolis that morning and hoped they would be able to meet in December regarding Evidence Based Sentencing (EBS).

But that meeting evidently did not take place either.

Porter and CCH CEO Ken Dukek did not respond to Pilot requests for comment.

Curry County District Attorney Everett Dial did not respond to Pilot requests for comments about working with CCH or Margolis on drug or treatment courts when asked after the October and January LPSCC meetings.

Margolis said he and Porter were to meet Jan. 14, but added CCH changed those plans and he met with Corporate Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Carly Kruse and Substance Use Disorders Supervisor Meredith Walker and the topic was the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM).

SIM identifies five key points for intercepting individuals with behavioral health issues and linking them to services while preventing them from getting further entrenched in the criminal justice system, where they often cannot receive proper treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Margolis said he would work with CCH on the SIM because the model was recommended by another judge from Clatsop County and would not require the extra money and staffing needed for drug courts.

“I have decided to be supportive of SIM planning,” Margolis said, “even though we lack some of their resources (Clatsop County).”

He said he would encourage the SIM model with CCH because it provides a “better picture of the pieces of the puzzle.”

SIM allows the court to see what is being done and its effect on those with behavioral issues, Margolis said. “It will help us identify progress with a better picture of what is missing here.”

After meeting with CCH officials Jan. 14, Margolis said he and CCH were looking to set up a planning meeting for instituting SIM in the county, but “that’s months away.”

However, in the program updates for the Mental Health Advisory Meeting in August, Porter reported CCH, in conjunction with the county, was implementing the Sequential Intercept Model to divert inmates with mental health issues from jail and into mental health services as quickly as possible.

When asked about the Jan. 14 meeting and progress on drug courts, SIM or other sentencing initiatives, CCH Public Information Officer Kristen Davis said, “We have no information at this time. We are engaged in ongoing discussions and when we have something concrete, it will be announced at the Advisory Board Meeting.”

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