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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Municipal Court and Court of Common Pleas are partnering to seek grant funding for onsite drug testing. The juvenile court and children's services can also also use the onsite testing capabilities.

Dave Priest, probation officer for the municipal court, said that the system they are interested in, Thermo Fisher, offers more specificity for the same cost. The current test is either positive or negative; the Thermo Fisher system provides a 13-panel result down to nanograms. This specificity not only gives results based on what type of drug is identified, but, on repeated testing, also indicates whether an individual is really trying to curtail drug use or whether drug use is increasing.

The $5,000 system uses bar codes to protect individuals' privacy and comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. Setup is free. The $3.10 cost per test is based on the current volume from municipal and common pleas courts. If children's services and the juvenile court use the testing, the cost per test will decrease. The courts' current contract with i-Samson ends in June.

Priest presented the information Monday at a meeting of the Community Corrections Act Board. David Erwin and Scott Zwiezinski of the West Central Community Correction Center also spoke about the center's community re-entry plan for those with fourth- and fifth-degree felony convictions. Erwin, executive director of the 144-bed community based correctional facility, said there are no restrictions on who the center accepts and that F4 and F5 offenders from Knox County could be referred. The problem is that the CBCF is full and has a wait list.

The goal of the re-entry program is to reduce the number of repeat offenders and the number of F4s and F5s who go to prison. The program operates with funding from Ohio's Probation Incentive and Improvement Grant program. Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel requested that Erwin include Knox County under the CBCF's grant.

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