State’s Attorney Nolls discusses impact of Wells Center closing

By Gary Scott on March 13, 2017 at 1:20pm

Jacksonville’s most utilized substance abuse facility is closing its doors at the beginning of April, and the effects will be far-reaching.

With the Wells Center set to close after four decades of local operation, not only will patients be impacted, but also the local court system.

WLDS-WEAI News caught up with Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll, who says it’s unfortunate that the Wells Center is closing, and explains the impact that the closure could have on his office and the criminal justice system.

“All the research shows that individuals with substance abuse issues are less likely to become mixed up in our criminal justice system if they are involved in some sort of treatment, and the Wells Center has provided that for a number of years to our community. Unfortunately I predict an uptick in the number of residents we have in our detention facility. If individuals aren’t getting treatment, studies show that they’re more likely to become criminally involved, and unfortunately be housed in local jails instead of treatment centers,” explains Noll.

Noll explains how the State’s Attorney’s office works directly with the Wells Center on drug-related cases.

“My office works with them most closely when it comes to our drug court team. Their drug counselors provide a lot of the treatment, a lot of the classes, a lot of the testing that our drug court participants are mandated to take. And beyond that, an individual who is placed on probation, even outside of the drug court, if it is found that they have substance abuse issues, they also are referred often to the Wells Center either on an out-patient or an in-patient basis,” Nolls says  .

He says that the idea of rehab over incarceration for drug-related crimes is a national trend, and that places like the Wells Center can help prevent future crimes.

Although he didn’t have the exact figures, Noll estimates that more than half of the cases the State’s Attorney’s office receives – especially felony cases – have at least some link to drug use.

The Wells Center announced last week that it will officially be closing the first week of April.