State Supreme Court Chief Justice Menis Ketchum speaks during the Feb. 6 ceremony opening the drug court in Wayne County. Ketchum is a Wayne County native. (Photos by Kyla Asbury)
Justice Brent Benjamin addresses the crowd during the Feb. 6 ceremony at the Wayne County Courthouse.
Wayne Circuit Judge Darrell Pratt.WAYNE – West Virginia's newest Adult Drug Court program held its opening ceremony in Wayne County on Feb. 6 to explain the importance of the drug court program in helping to fight drug abuse in the state. The Wayne County Adult Drug Court held its opening ceremony in Circuit Judge Darrell Pratt's courtroom, where state Supreme Court Chief Justice Menis Ketchum, a Wayne County native, signed the order for the program. Pratt said the drug court program is to help drug addicts who have committed a crime and fights the addiction first. "There are a large number of people involved in non-violent offenses who are addicts," Pratt said. "We are going to help these people and deal with their addiction first." Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin said the drug court program is important because it helps people with their addictions. "It's not an easy program to go through, but it changes people," Benjamin said. "This program turns them around and helps them get better." Pratt said the program is an 18-month program. "In order for this to work, the program has to be intensive and it has to be long term," Pratt said. The participants in the drug court program will appear in front of Pratt every week as part of the program and will have weekly rehabilitation, counseling and drug screenings. Pratt said the drug court program is another tool to help combat substance abuse. "We're going to be dealing with drug addicts who have happened to commit a crime, not criminals who have a drug habit," Pratt said. Benjamin said drug courts saved West Virginia $31 million last year.