York County residents serving court-ordered probation might want to be on their best behavior.
Probation officers could soon start making more home checks, as county commissioners on Wednesday voted to contract with a Virginia firm to oversee drug testing for people enrolled in treatment courts.
That'll free the probation officers who are currently administering the tests, giving them more time to check in on clients, said Michael Stough, the county's deputy chief of probation.
Under the contract, Avertest of Richmond, Va., will find a location in downtown York to open a drug-testing facility in the area of the York County Judicial Center and start operating by summer, Stough said.
Avertest will be paid $451,000 per year for at least two years to test county clients, with the county funding $351,000 and a federal Department of Justice grant funding the remaining $100,000.
County administrator Chuck Noll said the expense is already included in the county's recently approved 2013 budget.
People who are tested aren't currently charged a co-pay, but they'll pay $2 per test to offset costs when the new system is launched, Stough said.
The need: The treatment courts are diversionary programs aimed at treating people instead of sending them to jail.
The drunk-driving court is the county's largest, with about 170 participants, Stough said. There are about 150 people enrolled in drug court, about 20 in the mental health court, and about 15 in a veterans program, he said.
On most days, between 40 and 50 people are tested to make sure they aren't using any of the substances prohibited by the treatment court, he said.
Commissioner Doug Hoke asked Stough whether contracting the company will save the county money, and Stough said it'll free time to allow for expansion of the treatment courts by about 40 people.
The more people enrolled in treatment courts, the more the county saves because fewer people are sent to prison, Stough said.
Last year, 88 people graduated from the program, saving York County more than $800,000, he said.
Hoke said the change will also give probation officers more time to devote to their clients.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, while reviewing the county's treatment courts for accreditation, recommended probation officers conduct more home visits, Stough said.
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