Candy DeBusk, 15th Judicial Circuit Drug Court director (Horry and Georgetown County), was recently awarded the Public Safety Division’s “Horry County Employee of the Quarter” in acknowledgement of her outstanding accomplishments during the period of April 1 through June 30.

DeBusk is a Conway native and a 2002 Coastal Carolina University graduate. She earned a master’s degree in applied psychology from Francis Marion University in 2008.

DeBusk began her career in 2004 at the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Horry County’s Pretrial Intervention Program. By 2006, she had taken on the challenging new position as Horry County’s Drug Court director.  

 Drug Court began in Horry County in August 2005 with three clients. It was expanded to Georgetown County in March 2011 after a grant was awarded to the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office to help cover the costs.  

Today, the 15th Judicial Circuit Drug Court has treated and served more than 400 clients and graduated 164 clients. Drug Court currently has 104 active clients.

The purpose of Drug Court is to treat and enforce personal responsibility on certain criminals with drug and alcohol-related addictions. Drug Court provides a way to help break the cycle of repeat offenders by allowing offenders charged with nonviolent and substance abuse-related crimes to plead guilty and spend up to 18 months in Drug Court instead of jail.

Even though these criminals do not go to jail, the program is not an easy alternative.

Participants must report to a judge every week, must attend two to three treatment sessions weekly, and must participate in self-help meetings throughout the duration of the program.  

Additionally, they have a resident curfew every night that is monitored with surprise visits by deputies making sure participants are adhering to the rules. All participants undergo numerous drug and alcohols tests while in the program and remain employed full time.  

If they do not have a job, they must submit at least 75 applications each week and participate in community service.

 For example, prior to Georgetown County’s first graduation ceremony, Judge Maring ordered one participant to relinquish his cell phone for a week and to write a 1,000-word essay because his phone rang during a court session.

More serious violations, such as failed drug tests, can result in removal from the program and prison time.  

This alternative to incarceration, for certain criminals, essentially saves lives and provides an efficient, effective way to prevent repeat offenders from becoming future burdens on society.  Without DeBusk’s dedication and leadership, this special program and its success would not be possible.  

Fortunately, because this program aims to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail and allows them to be productive citizens, Drug Court is rapidly growing nationwide! Here are some statistical facts concerning Drug Courts on a national perspective and the many positive effects they have on society as a whole:

1.      Drug Courts Reduce Crime

a.      Nationwide, 75 percent of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program.

b.     Rigorous studies examining long-term outcomes of individual Drug Courts have found that reductions in crime last at least three years and can endure for more than 14 years.

c.      The most rigorous and conservative scientific “meta-analyses” have all concluded that Drug Courts significantly reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.

2.      Drug Courts Save Money

a. Nationwide, for every $1 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in criminal justice costs alone.

b. When considering other cost offsets such as savings from reduced victimization and healthcare service utilization, studies have shown benefits range up to $27 for every $1 invested.

c. Drug Courts produce cost savings ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 per client. These cost savings reflect reduced prison costs, reduced revolving-door arrests and trials and reduced victimization.

d.     In 2007, for every Federal dollar invested in Drug Court, $9 was leveraged in state funding.

3.      Drug Courts Ensure Compliance

a.      Unless substance abusing/addicted offenders are regularly supervised by a judge and held accountable, 70 percent drop out of treatment prematurely.

b.     Drug Courts provide more comprehensive and closer supervision than other community-based supervision programs.

c.      Drug Courts are six times more likely to keep offenders in treatment long enough for them to get better.

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