Wellness Court Hold Commencement Ceremony for Alternative Justice Program Grads

The Fairbanks Wellness Court holds a commencement ceremony Thursday for graduates of the alternative justice program. The Wellness Court, which started in 2007, provides intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment, monitoring, and work or education requirements, as an alternative to jail time or other penalties. Therapeutic Court coordinator Janice Lorenzen, says the program primarily works with driving under the influence offenders, employing a system proven over the last two decades in similar courts in the Lower 48.

Lorenzen says the Fairbanks Wellness Court Program has involved a learning process, but has been pretty successful.

Lorenzen says only one of 20 Fairbanks Wellness Court graduates has had another DUI offense. She says the program is currently operating at capacity, with 30 participants. The Fairbanks Wellness Court, like several others in Alaska, and in other states, are designed as a lower cost, more effective justice option to jail time or other punitive measures, for substance abuse offenders.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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