N.P. Co. Drug Court program achieves mentor status teaching other courts across the nation

LEWISTON, ID - The Nez Perce County Adult Drug Court was just awarded one of the highest national honors a court can be given.

In the United States there are more than two-thousand drug courts spread throughout all 50 states. However it's the drug court in Nez Perce county that's now nationally known as a mentor court.

"A mentor court is a court that has the opportunity, the honor to teach other courts across the nation how to do drug court well," said National Assoc. of Drug Court Profession, Carson Fox.

To be deemed a mentor court is not easy, which is why there's only ten of them in the country.

"We look at every facet of their lives that needs to be improved for them to be successful when they're on there own," said D2 Problem Solving Court, Shawna Hopple.

"You have to have good treatment, you have to have good testing, and you have to have good involvement from prosecutors, defense attorneys and probation officers and just the completeness of the program itself," said Judge Jeff Brudie.

Drug court is designed to help non-violent offenders who struggle with drug abuse.

"It's an 18 month program and is driven by their progress in treatment and they're sobriety," said Hopple

In order to graduate, seven consecutive months of sobriety is required... A goal that's not always easy to achieve.

"Had a graduate come back recently get charged again, and it wasn't the first time," said Judge Brudie. "But then you also have to look at them and say, I've kept them clean and out of trouble for the two years they were in the program for years afterward. So it was not all lost. There was something accomplished there, not the ultimate you'd like to see and we have seen with some of our graduates."

And it's those success stories from Nez Perce county to across the nation that make the drug court model a success.

"They've saved tens of thousands of lives, reunited families," said Fox. "Without a doubt it is the most successful intervention in the criminal justice system."

"I think they're probably one of the most important things we do," said Judge Brudie. "You see a lot of things in the court system that are really bad. But as you get to know these people you learn that they are not bad they're pretty good people who have some issues you can help with."