CHARLESTON — Supreme Court Justice Brent D. Benjamin will give the keynote address to a conference of treatment court professionals at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, in the third floor pavilion of the Marriott Charleston Town Center Hotel.
The speech, like the conference, will concern alternatives to incarceration for certain first-time, non-violent offenders.
The West Virginia court system continues to add treatment courts throughout the state and to celebrate graduates who complete such specialty court programs. Benjamin attends as many treatment court openings and graduation ceremonies as his schedule allows as the Supreme Court’s representative, an indication of how important the Court believes the programs are.
West Virginia currently has 11 adult drug courts serving 28 counties, 10 juvenile drug courts serving 12 counties, one adult reentry court and one adult mental health court.
The goal of treatment courts, also called problem-solving courts, is to help participants overcome addictions and mental illnesses that may have led them to commit crimes, thus improving the quality of life for them and their families. Turning people who might have become repeat offenders into productive citizens also improves public safety.
The programs can be more productive, cost-effective, and humane than incarceration for those who have committed non-violent crimes and are a low to moderate risk to be released into the community.
In all treatment court programs in West Virginia, people who are registered as sex offenders or who have a prior conviction for a felony crime of violence are not eligible,and prosecutors and judges choose which offenders may participate.
For more information about West Virginia’s treatment courts, see the West Virginia Judicial System website at www.courtswv.gov.