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« on: August 10, 2007, 08:44:33 PM »

Churches help courts get drug prosecutions

A decision, made three years ago by local churches, has turned one Kentucky town from being known as the "prescription pain capital of America" to the "City of Hope.

The town is Manchester, Kentucky and it is located in Clay County. Churches there have banded together to bring positive change throughout the community using a landmark program called Court Watch.

Doug Abner, whose Community Church of Manchester has spearheaded this cooperative program among churches, says four or five volunteers a day, and some 30 to 40 on a rotating basis, go into the county's district and circuit courts when they are in session. Their job is to take notes on all the cases for entry into a database.

"It tells everything... everything dealing with the case, who the attorneys are, the evidence, who the judge is, [and] every step of that case is monitored," says Abner.

Through this procedure, Court Watch has helped increase drug case prosecutions in Clay County. This has helped to put a dent in the serious abuse problem that has plagued eastern Kentucky for years, a problem that led to other crimes and related violence. Abner claims the volunteer notes have brought attention to problems like repeat offenders, lenient sentences, and law officers who did not show up for court thus resulting in the dismissal of cases instead of convictions.

"Sometimes it's just little simple things that we bring to the court's attention that before, nobody would have said anything about," explains Abner.

The intervention into civil affairs has been controversial for some area clergymen who believe churches should focus on drug counseling, ministering, and even bake sales, rather than helping with court prosecution. Recently he received a critical e-mail along that line.

"I e-mailed the fella back and I said, 'Well we're too busy trying to help our county, so we don't bake many cookies," Abner quotes. He says they take the complaints in stride.

Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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