Raleigh County launches first adult drug court - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Raleigh County launches first adult drug court

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Beckley (WVVA) Every day, we share reports of the region's growing drug problem and the lives being destroyed along the way. On Friday, Raleigh County launched a new drug court aimed at helping addicts turn their lives around. 

"There's drug counseling. There's social counseling, social services, probation services and all of this at a concentrated level. That's a big difference than just having them go once in awhile," said Judge Robert Burnside, who will be presiding over the new court. 

The name 'court' implies charges and jail time. But those who successfully navigate the program can have felonies cleared from their record.

"There will be some folks who go to drug court often and after while drop out and say I'd rather go to jail that do this," added Judge Burnside. 

Raleigh County's Prosecuting Attorney, Kristen Keller, points out the program is not for everyone and those who do qualify will be held accountable. "We all agree violent criminals, repeat offenders have to stay in jail. We have to pay for it. But the county commission has a lot of positive things they'd like to be doing in the community and they can't because of exorbitant jail costs." 

It is not just a program for those deserving of a second chance, Keller adds, but for the babies who have yet to arrive. 

"There are success stories and even if you're only talking one drug court participant, you're talking about that participant's family, their children. And there is hope for them. There is hope for their lives and we want to help them." 

Raleigh County is the 45th county in West Virginia to launch a drug court program. All West Virginia counties are required to implement a program by July. 

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