Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH—The Administrative Office of the Courts announced last week that it is terminating the Warren County Drug Treatment Court program, which relies on the services of the John Hyman Foundation, an organization based in Warrenton and chaired by U. S. Rep. Frank Ballance, D-1st.
In addition, last week the state Division of Mental Health reprimanded the Hyman Foundation for violations of state law and “a pattern of noncompliance” with the foundation’s DWI program.
“This is a shock. I can’t see why our clients should be punished because of mistakes the John Hyman Foundation may or may not have made,” Mary Somerville, the Warren County drug program’s local director, told Carolina Journal. She said the Hyman Foundation was scheduled to be replaced by another treatment provider next month.
In a June 3 letter to Warren County Manager Loria Williams, AOC Drug Treatment Court Manager Deborah Reilly wrote, “Problems continue to surface with this DTC that I do not believe can be resolved while the court continues to operate. I would like this court to cease operation and step back from all operational activities.”
Reilly’s letter cited two key elements that were not in place — the lack of “a reliable and licensed treatment option that can deliver a continuum of substance abuse treatment services” and the lack of “a dedicated case management service that is provided five days per week.”
Drug Treatment Court is available in only 10 counties. It is an intensive, highly structured program designed to identify offenders whose criminal activities are generally related to substance abuse. Warren County District Court Judge Garey Ballance is lead judge responsible for the local program. The son and former law partner of Frank Ballance, he was appointed to a newly created District Court judge’s position by Gov. Jim Hunt in December 2000, the month before Hunt left office.
Somerville said Warren County has used the Hyman Foundation since the program’s inception six years ago. The foundation handles about 80 percent of the county’s drug court cases. The foundation’s headquarters is at Greenwood Baptist Church in Warrenton. Ballance is a member of the church and is chairman of the Deacon Board.
Financial statements on file with the Department of Correction indicate that all of the foundation’s revenue comes from the state. The statements show no revenue from the Drug Court program, but Somerville told CJ that the drug court program pays the foundation $10 per hour per client. Calls to the foundation seeking an explanation to the income discrepancy were not returned.
On June 4, Michael Eisen, director of DWI Services in the Division of Mental Health, completed a review of the foundation’s DWI treatment school. Eisen’s report found that contrary to state law, the program was not charging the required fees. The law requires clients to pay a $50 assessment fee and a minimum of $75 for treatment. The foundation paid instructors from the money it received from the state.
In addition, Eisen’s report documented “a pattern of non-compliance” existed with the individual records and cited 10 specific findings.
The foundation, which has received about $2 million from the state since 1993, is being investigated by the State Auditor and by the IRS for failure to file annual reports.
Carrington is associate publisher of Carolina Journal.