CPN District Court Judge Phil Lujan loves to garden, though he admits he doesn’t get to it as much as he used to. He says the methodical tilling and planting that are part of the growing process are especially cathartic to someone in a profession where black and white distinctions aren’t often clearly defined. 

“We all work in such abstract jobs,” said Judge Lujan to a room of CPN Tribal Court and FireLodge Children and Family Services staff members during a recent grant meeting to discuss a new drug court program. “There are so many things that we do as a court and in our social services programs that makes me wonder if we are making progress. This Healing to Wellness Court Program is one of those things that actually lets us see our progress.”

The Tribe has had a Healing to Wellness Court since April 2014. Currently, it can serve three participants per day. With the latest grant funding of more than $343,000 from the Department of Justice, that daily capacity will increase to 12 participants per day. According to Lujan, the drug court program has a success rate of just more than fifty percent.

“Step-by-step, you can see a person’s life get better,” he said.

More importantly, given the interconnected nature of the Tribe and its role as a social service provider, the court will be open to all citizens living in the Tribal jurisdiction which largely encompasses Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. Allowing non-Natives the opportunity to participate in the program will relieve some of the congestion in the Pottawatomie County Drug Court, with the CPN program costing approximately half for each participant.

“CPN believes we can make lasting differences and improve the community by strengthening one participant and family at a time,” said Vickie Canfield, who is in charge of overseeing the grant funds for the court.

Participants will be enrolled in the program for a minimum of 15 months and a maximum of 25 months. They will have to be at least 18 years old, non-violent offenders who are high-risk, high-need substance abusers. The court program will evaluate participants’ progress through the American University drug court database. Data will continue to be collected on program participants after their completion of the health to wellness court cycle for one year to help gauge success and recidivism rates. As part of the grant, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services attorneys will provide two hours of time per week to attend meetings and hearings for the court, while a doctor trained in treating substance abusers will offer medical counseling.

In all, the Healing to Wellness Court aims to treat 36 participants during the three year grant with an overall goal of improving the individuals, families and communities that ultimately bear the brunt of substance abuse. To learn more about the CPN Tribal Court’s Healing to Wellness Drug Court, please call (405) 878-4844.