The Mahoning County drug court was recently named one of three courts of its kind.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Four years after its creation, Mahoning County's drug court has become a model for similar courts across the country.
It was one of three drug courts recently designated as a mentor court by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
The others are in Richland County, Ohio, and Virginia Beach, Va.
There are now about 40 mentor courts in the country, including common pleas, municipal, juvenile and Indian tribal courts, said Judge Jack Durkin, who presides over the local common pleas court.
Judge Durkin said the honor is a phenomenal accomplishment given the special court's relative short existence.
"To gain that type of recognition in such a short period of time speaks volumes about the collaborative efforts of everyone involved in this program," Judge Durkin said. "It's more than just a recognition that you're doing things right."
High standard: Mentor courts are considered examples of best court practices and become training sites for teams from other counties and states interested in developing drug courts.
Judge Durkin applied for mentor court status in January, and the designation was made official last week during a national drug court conference in New Orleans.
The designation is for two years and can be extended by the national organization, Judge Durkin said.
In January, the U.S. Department of Justice recognized the Mahoning County drug court as one of the best in the country and awarded it a $293,000 grant to enhance its programs.