CHARLESTON – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Prestera Center for Mental Health Services CEO Karen Yost and law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced an intervention program through which certain heroin addicts are being referred to treatment.
The collaborative initiative is part of ongoing efforts in the Kanawha Valley to address the opiate abuse epidemic. The Kanawha County Commission provided funding earlier this year for an anti-heroin initiative known as HEAT: Heroin Eradication Associated Task Force.
As a result, a roundup was conducted Oct. 16 by area law enforcement agencies, netting approximately 34 arrests. During the operation, officers referred three low-level, nonviolent offenders to treatment services instead of sending them to jail.
Treatment services will be provided by Prestera. If one of these individuals deviates from the caseworker’s plan or treatment program, criminal charges will be filed and the individual would then be subject to the normal judicial process.
“While we in law enforcement will continue to aggressively arrest and prosecute heroin dealers and traffickers, we also know that we cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic," Goodwin said. "Opiate addiction is powerful – addicts will continue to use until they get treatment.
"This is not being soft on crime but rather being smart on crime.”