- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The state Supreme Court’s suspension of a troubled southern Indiana drug court has left more than 70 participants in its treatment program facing the possibility of having to serve out the rest of their original sentences in prison.

State officials are weighing whether participants in the Clark County Drug Court Treatment Program can complete the program under a temporary certification.

Sarah Kidwell, outreach coordinator for the state Supreme Court, said state officials will work with Clark County to address outstanding issues regarding participants who agreed to enter the drug-treatment program.

“Any particulars of moving forward are being carefully considered,” Kidwell told The Courier-Journal, of Louisville, Ky., (http://cjky.it/1cAEZWo ).

The high court last month suspended the drug court, which is facing a federal lawsuit over the alleged mistreatment of participants. The suspension is the first of its kind for any of Indiana’s so-called problem-solving courts since the state began certifying them 11 years ago, according to officials with the state's high court.

The state Judicial Center, a branch of the state high court, has received a list of the drug court treatment program participants it requested from the county last month.

Jessica St. John, a 30-year-old recovering opiate addict from New Albany, is one of the more than 70 program participants awaiting the state’s decision in the matter. The single mother of two children lost her job last week at a car wash.

“I’ve been wondering what’s going to happen. What’s next for us?” said St. John of New Albany.

The program requires participants to work or attend school 30 hours a week. If they can’t, they must make up the remainder of the 30 hours by performing community service.

Eight plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit filed last month are seeking monetary damages and a court injunction. Among them are plaintiffs who say they were arrested or were subject to arrest by drug court workers with no arrest powers, incarcerated for more than 72 hours without hearings or other due process, or face the possibility of being in violation of drug court or probation through the court overseen by Judge Jerry Jacobi.

State Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, said he has “full trust in the Indiana Supreme Court to evaluate any unlawful conduct by Clark County judges, and expect the investigation will be carried out thoroughly.”

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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