CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Senate has voted to scrap a requirement that requires every circuit court in the state be a part of a drug court program.
The state senate voted 20-13 on March 11 to revoke the requirement. One senator was absent during the vote. Sen. Charles Trump sponsored the bill.
If the bill passes, the judicial branch would take control of which circuit courts would have a drug court and which would not.
While the mandate would not eliminate any of the current drug courts, it would give the judiciary branch the authority to authorize the continuation of any and all drug courts as it sees fit.
The West Virginia Adult Drug Court Program is an alternative to the standard criminal justice system for low-level offenders. It allows participants to receive supervision, drug testing, counseling and workplace training to help them leave their drug habits behind.
The drug court program has had positive results, with about 2 percent of participants ending back in legal trouble within one year and about 9 percent within two years. Without drug court, the offenders’ rate of return is about 30 percent.
It costs about $7,100 for a participant to go through the drug court program, which is nearly $20,000 less than it costs to house one inmate in jail.