CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin said a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, probation officers and counselors who participated in the state conference of drug court professionals. They gathered in Charleston Tuesday.

Benjamin helped spearhead the creation of the court, which is now in 35 counties. He predicted that will increase to all 55 counties within the next couple of years.

Drug Court works with those who have been convicted of non-violent drug-related crimes. Those who participate take part in drug treatment, mandatory drug testing, supervision and other related treatment. Benjamin said about 50 percent of those who enter the program graduate. After graduation, the recidivism rate is only between 9 to 14 percent.

“Some people can get through the program in one year, some take two years. Each one is different. But the results, we just cherish,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin shared with the crowd the story of a young woman who’d battled drug abuse for years. She got in to the program and graduated. She was clean for three weeks before she relapsed and died of an overdose.

“As tragic as it was for this young girl to die, it was also tragic for the drug court team because they had worked with her for quite some time. And there’s an investment of emotion almost like family,” explained the justice.

Not long after, the grandmother of the woman came to the drug court to say thank you to the staff. She told them, for those three weeks, she got her granddaughter back and cherished those memories.

Benjamin said while not everyone in the drug court system will succeed, for those who do, their lives are transformed.

“I think what we have to focus on is that each one of those is a life. Each one of those is a new taxpayer, a new person who’s come out to help. It’s breaking that cycle.”

Benjamin said many graduates turn out to be law-abiding, hard-working, responsible members of the community.

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  • Additional

    Additional info to Johnny: 75-80% of drug offenders who go to jail reoffend and only 9-14% of drug court graduates reoffend. There's your true savings!

  • johnny

    So roughly 35% graduated to become law abiding citizen's. How much tax $ does this cost the state to have a 65% failure. Is it more than jail time ? Probably not with all the amenities they recieve. Stop wasting money building programs to keep losers out of jail. Lock there asses up. Law abiding citizen's would then at least feal safer.

    • Lee

      Johnny, the Justice said drug court serves 35 counties not 35% graduate. Approximately half graduate and those that don't go on to prison usually. You can't afford to have everyone locked up. The cost in the regional jail is about $18,000 per year and the prison is closer to $24,000 per year. Female inmates costs even more, $35k-$40k. A drug court participant costs the state about $7,000 annually and many of them have a fee they pay that helps defer the costs. Probably 99% of people who go to prison will be released and most come out far worse than when they went in. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I respect yours, but I wanted to make sure you knew the facts.

      • johnny

        No he said 50% graduated and 9-14% go back to the way they were by my calculation that's only around 35% success.

        • Expand Your Mind

          Johnny- obviously math is NOT your strong suit. If 50% graduate and only 9-14% of that original 50% relapse, then the success rate for those that graduate are 91-86%, which is pretty damn good. Maybe you were asleep when they covered percentages during 7th grade. Stick to what you know and leave the thinking to the rest of us.