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Kentucky Specialty Courts

The Department of Specialty Courts oversees the Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Treatment Court programs. Collectively referred to as Specialty Courts, these programs are similarly structured and supervised and have the same goal — to give eligible participants the opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. The programs all provide oversight by a judge, case management, treatment and drug testing.

Specialty Court programs are provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is the administrative arm of the state court system. The AOC pays for treatment, drug testing and case management, and no fees are charged to defendants to participate in the program.

The cornerstone of a successful Specialty Court is its multidisciplinary team. Each team is led by a judge and is comprised of Specialty Court staff, local criminal justice officials, treatment providers and community representatives who develop a program tailored to each jurisdiction.

Specialty Court programs offer many financial and societal benefits, including lower recidivism rates, reduced incarceration costs, more babies born drug free, decreased medical costs, and improved child support and tax payments as participants obtain and maintain employment. In addition, the devastating cycle of generational criminal behavior and addiction is broken as participants become healthy, productive members of their communities.

Types of Specialty Courts

Drug Court, serves nonviolent offenders whose main problems stem from substance abuse. This court-managed treatment program provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional criminal case processing. Drug Court accepts those charged with nonviolent offenses related to substance abuse and combines intensive supervision with substance-abuse treatment. It takes participants an average of 22 to 25 months to complete the program’s three phases and aftercare.

DUI Court is for repeat DUI offenders. However, the program also accepts defendants who may have a first conviction for DUI and a significant history of alcohol intoxication convictions. DUI Court is offered in Butler, Edmonson, Hancock and Ohio counties.

Mental Health Court serves individuals with an Axis I diagnosis of major mental illness. To be eligible, participants must have a diagnosed mental illness with or without histories of psychiatric hospitalizations. Participants may or may not have a substance use disorder. Mental Health Court is operating in Hardin County.

Veterans Treatment Court is for those who have served in the military. Participants may or may not have had an honorable discharge and do not have to qualify for services through the Veteran’s Administration to be eligible for VTC. Participants may or may not have a substance use disorder. VTC teams include a veterans justice outreach specialist from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, agencies from the community, state and federal levels work together to provide high-quality services and bridge gaps in resources to meet the needs of our veterans.