Judge urges continued funding of drug courts

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Senate panel was urged Wednesday to keep funding the state's drug court program.

The program started in 2009 and its federal funding ends on June 30, so the state court system is asking lawmakers for $5.8 million to keep it going.

"My experience is that the program definitely works," Polk County Circuit Court Judge John Stargell, a former lawmaker, told the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee. "Some of you served with me when I was in the Legislature. I wasn't a soft-on-crime type of person."

The Department of Corrections has made a separate request to fund 13 probation officers funded under the grant. Gov. Rick Scott recommended both requests in his budget.

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