Danielle Morris entered Monroe County’s two-year drug court program on Dec. 13, 2018. “At first it was really, really hard,” said the Bloomington woman, seen six months after she started the program posing with her jail booking photo. (Courtesy photo)
Danielle Morris entered Monroe County’s two-year drug court program on Dec. 13, 2018. “At first it was really, really hard,” said the Bloomington woman, seen six months after she started the program posing with her jail booking photo. (Courtesy photo)
“Monroe Circuit Court to give new ‘drug court’ a try,” said a June 1999 headline in the Herald-Times.

The story described a pilot project that former Monroe Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Todd and then-Prosecutor Carl Salzmann had proposed to the county council that would redirect resources to a court focused on helping the addicted break free from drugs.

Salzmann, the story reported, was skeptical at first. “I thought, ‘This is one of those soft-on-crime deals coming out of Washington.’” Instead, he said, “I found it’s a smart-on-crime program, because it deals with people the way they are, not the way you think they should be.”

Todd became the first drug court judge, paving the way for a program that for two decades has helped hundreds escape a life of addiction and to start over with hope for the future.

Judge Maryellen Diekhoff has since taken over a court that former White House deputy drug czar Scott Burns described as the best around. He spoke Wednesday morning at a courthouse ceremony celebrating the drug court’s 20 years.

Burns got his White House job in 2007, and was assigned to go out and find a successful drug court program to serve as a nationwide model.

“So I came here,” he said, and discovered a program that works.

But it could not be replicated, he said, because it was the people involved — Diekhoff, drug court coordinator Steve Malone and others — who were at the heart of the success.

“I went back and said the people in Indiana get up early, they work hard, they seek results and they get results,” Burns said. He introduced a drug court graduate he had met in the elevator on his way up to the ceremony and asked how his life changed during his two-year treatment program overseen by the court.

He held up his baby and pointed to his wife to illustrate his path.
© 2019 HeraldTimesOnline, Bloomington, IN