CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis on Monday, March 19, will sign an Administrative Order establishing West Virginia's West Central Drug Court Diversion Program to serve Doddridge, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Wirt and Wood counties.
Davis will sign the order during a ceremony at noon at the Parkersburg Municipal Building.
"The American criminal justice system is fueled by alcohol and drugs. A June 2003 statewide sampling indicated that more than 41 percent of West Virginia's regional jail inmates reported they have abused substances," Davis said. "I'm pleased to announce programs like this that show how the court system is trying to change lives and lower recidivism."
The program will serve non-violent adult men and women who have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of non-violent misdemeanors and felonies and who were motivated to commit those crimes due to a substance abuse addiction. People can volunteer for the program to avoid jail and prison sentences. Prosecutors have final approval of all participants.
All participants must be evaluated as a low to moderate risk to be released back into the community. People who have been charged with sex crimes or crimes in which a child was the victim are not eligible to participate.
Participants will undergo substance abuse treatment and will be heavily supervised by probation officers, law enforcement and the sentencing court and may undergo treatment for co-occuring disorders like mental illnesses.
Each person will remain in the program for at least a year. Participants may be forced to repeat certain phases if they have positive drug screens or if they refuse to cooperate. The judge may impose jail time if he feels it is necessary to make a participant follow the protocol. Those who do follow the protocol will be rewarded with gift certificates from local retailers and other incentives.
Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey B. Reed will be the Administering Drug Court Judge. Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Jason Whaton will be the Drug Court Prosecutor. Wood County attorney Patrick Radcliff will be the Drug Court Defense Attorney.
The Wood County Day Report Center will be the treatment provider. Concord University Vice President John David Smith and others from the university as well as Erin Lentz of the Wood County Day Report Center will serve as evaluators. Parkersburg Police Captain J.J. Dyke will be the law enforcement team member. Adult Probation Officer Katherine L. Trippel will be the Drug Court Coordinator.
The West Central Drug Court Diversion Program is the third in West Virginia. The first opened to serve Brooke, Hancock, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties in August 2005 and another opened in Mercer County in January 2006.