Southwest Va. sheriffs gather for drug court conference - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Southwest Va. sheriffs gather for drug court conference

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PORTSMOUTH Va. (NEWS RELEASE) -- Sheriffs from three Southwest Virginia counties were the quest speakers at this year's Virginia Drug Court Conference held in Portsmouth.

Tazewell County's Sheriff Brian Hieatt led a presentation on the counties Drug Court Deputy with Russell County Sheriff Steve Dye and Buchanan County Sheriff Ray Foster. The Tri-County Drug Court Deputy position is the first such collaborative position of its kind in Virginia.

"This position has tremendously helped the area's drug courts." Sheriff Hieatt told the attendants of the conference, which included Judges, Prosecuting Attorneys, Defense Attorneys, Mental Health Professionals, and several Drug Court Participants. 

He went on to say that Deputy Ray Smith, who is currently in the position, has become an important resource not only for the courts but for the participants who are overcoming their drug problems. "All three counties work hard on prevention programs, and equally hard at arresting offenders, however there is still a missing link," Hieatt went on to say "and Virginia's Drug Court Programs could be the missing part that can help people battle the drug addiction epidemic that has plagued the Nation."

Buchanan, Russell, and Tazewell Counties all have Drug Court Programs that combine the efforts of the Commonwealth Attorney's Office, Circuit Court Judges, Defense Attorneys, Cumberland Mountain Community Services, Law Enforcement, and Probation. 

Eligible drug-addicted persons may be sent to one of the Drug Courts in lieu of traditional justice system case processing. The goal of Drug Court is to keep individuals in treatment long enough for the treatment to work, while supervising them closely. During the program participants from the three counties are:

  • provided with intensive treatment and other services they require to get and stay clean and sober;
  • held accountable by the Drug Court judge for meeting their obligations to the court, society, themselves and their families;
  • regularly and randomly tested for drug and alcohol use by the Drug Court Deputy;
  • required to appear in court frequently so that the judge may review their progress; and
  • rewarded for doing well or sanctioned when they do not live up to their obligations.

Drug Court has shown that there is hope and that jail doesn't have to be the only resort for someone who has made bad choices. Although not all participants are successful, Deputy Smith says that he has seen graduates who, when given the opportunity and work hard, have turned their lives around become a productive part of our community.

Also in attendance from Tazewell County were Circuit Court Judge Jack Hurley, and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Melanie Menefee.

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