State, county officials discuss new specialty drug court as part of ‘Operation Rio Grande’

SALT LAKE CITY -- State and Salt Lake County officials announced the creation of a new specialty drug court program Wednesday as part of the ongoing "Operation Rio Grande."

The program will have 125 treatment beds available. Currently, out of the more than 1,000 people arrested during "Operation Rio Grande", 60 jail inmates were assessed and identified to be potential drug-court candidates. Of those, 37 volunteered and 35 of them will be drug-court participants.

Thirty-seven beds total will come online next week.

The specialty drug-court is part of Phase Two of "Operation Rio Grande."

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, and District Attorney Sim Gill and other local officials said there is still not enough funding to support the anticipated number of future drug-court participants.

“No, there is not enough treatment today for our needs, but those treatment beds are coming online,” McAdams said. “Providers have stepped forward with ideas about remodeling their space or adding onto their space; how they can bring additional treatment beds; what it is going to take to hire the social workers to staff that. That is happening. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

He said he plans to have a total of 200 to 250 treatment beds available for this specialty drug-court.

The mayor also said the state used a grant from earlier this summer that helped the county’s other three drug-courts.

“… Wait lists were almost nine months to get a treatment bed for participants in existing drug-courts," McAdams said.

He said now that wait list is almost non-existent.

Lt. Gov. Cox said Governor Herbert is back in DC this week. He is working to get a waiver for Medicaid expansion to fund the specialty drug-court. He said on Wednesday there was a bill announcement in the senate that dealt with the future of ObamaCare. He said in that proposal Utah would receive a block grant that would allow us to develop a program to provide health care, and those dollars could be used for treatment beds.