HUNTINGTON – The Cabell drug court received a new name and was rededicated during a ceremony Friday at Cabell County Courthouse.
The ceremony was attended by drug court graduates, West Virginia Supreme Court Justices Brent Benjamin and Menis Ketchum, Drug Court Judge Patricia Keller, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Director of the Division of Probation Services Mike Lacy, and the rest of the Drug Court Treatment Team.
Lacy said the name change from Cabell Adult Drug Court to Cabell-Huntington Adult Drug Court reflects the relationship between the city and the county.
"This drug court is the 'queen mother' of drug courts in West Virginia," Lacy said. "This was the first drug court in the state. This county and these judges have been on the cutting edge from the very beginning."
Lacy said the Women's Empowerment and Addiction Recovery Program is also the first of its kind in West Virginia.
'There is no other drug court in West Virginia that has a specialized tract for women," Lacy said. "Huntington is my home. I love Huntington and I want to see this program succeed."
Lacy said drug courts work, as they hold offenders accountable to those they harmed and for their actions.
"They don't work for everyone, so when you see a drug court graduate, you know that person has worked very hard at overcoming their addiction," Lacy said.
Benjamin said the move is another step forward in acknowledging and owning the drug problem in the Huntington area.
"This is a community problem that needs a community response," Benjamin said. "This program will serve as a model for other programs across the state. This is about Cabell County and Huntington leading the way."
Benjamin said no other area has pulled it together like the Huntington area.
"We just do it one first down at a time," he said. "We're not ready to dance in the end zone just yet."
Williams said as a community, Huntington had to acknowledge the problem and then identify the solutions.
"We are here to celebrate that this one of our solutions," Williams said. "We as a community have to have a strong grip and not let go. We're not letting go because you're worth saving."
Williams said Huntington, as a community, will conquer the drug problem.
The drug court recently received two federal grants which will allow it to add a specialized track for adult prostitutes who also are addicts, a combination which make them high-risk, high-need, non-violent felony offenders.
The WEAR program will treat their addiction, mental illness and physical health needs, thus applying a social service approach to prevent recidivism instead of focusing on punishment through the criminal justice system.
Up to 20 participants each year will be served by the WEAR program.
That number will increase the overall capacity of the drug court from 40 participants per year to 60 participants per year.