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Changing attitudes, thinking, behavior: Part I of II

Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Faced with the drug epidemic, overdoses climbing across America, and recognition that the majority of criminal offenses are driven by substance abuse, it became evident that there was a lack of intensive substance abuse treatment resources in our rural communities.

The Counties of Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland came together in March 2017, to establish an Adult Drug Treatment Court Program that would serve the Northern Neck and Essex.

On February 21, 2019 the Northern Neck and Essex Adult Drug Treatment Court became one of approximately 3,316 treatment courts currently in operation.  Per the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Drug Court is the most successful criminal justice intervention for addicted offenders – proven to save lives, money, and reduce crime.  Studies show that 75% of graduates remain arrest free two years after completion of the program, compared to just 30% of those released from prisons. Sending a defendant to drug court instead of state prison can save up to $13,000 per participant.

Drug treatment courts are built upon a partnership between the criminal justice system and the treatment community. This collaboration results in a Drug Treatment Court Team that structures treatment, supervision, and intervention in order to break the cycle of drug abuse and associated criminal activity.

Lead by Julia H. Sichol, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Westmoreland County and Auriel Walker, Director of Community Based Probation at the Northern Neck Regional Jail, the design for the Drug Treatment Court was the result of 20 months of assessment and planning done by the Planning Team. Being exposed to the daily struggle of addiction and the affect the cycle of addiction has on our society as a whole, Sichol and Walker both recognized a need for more intensive treatment for the Northern Neck area, where many resources were unavailable or difficult to access by those who most needed them.  It was easy to recruit other individuals also exposed to the devastation addiction causes to participate in the development of the program.

For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 4/10/19