A Mercer County Circuit Judge says it’s difficult to find drug rehabilitation facilities in West Virginia.
Judge Omar Aboulhosn says there are too few treatment centers and locating adequate treatment for addicts, convicted of crimes, is a daily issue.
“I would much rather try and send someone to drug rehab and get them cleaned up and off of drugs because, if I can do that, the chances are I’m not going to see them back in the courtroom again,” said Judge Omar Aboulhosn.
“I’ve only been doing this for four years and I’m seeing it all the time,” he said of the number of repeat offenders who come through his court.
Officials with the Council of State Governments Justice Center will be in Charleston for the 2013 Regular Legislative Session, starting next month, with their recommendations to address West Virginia’s growing prison population.
In a report released last week, the group said the state’s prison overcrowding problems can be eased by better assessing those convicted of crimes and improving the monitoring of people once they get out of prison.
The report’s authors say increased investments in substance abuse treatment programs are a big part of that.
Judge Aboulhosn does not disagree. “Before we build a prison that happens to be a drug rehab, I’d much rather build a drug rehab that just happens to be a prison,” the Judge said.
“If we could have a 1,500 bed drug rehab that’s staffed with people who are trained in how to deal with drug addicts, that happens to have a barbed wire fence around it and some folks, guards around it to keep them in there until they complete the program, I’d much rather have that.”
Too often, Judge Aboulhosn says the only option he has is to send people to jail. “I’m locking people up because I’m trying to save them from themselves,” he said.
You can see the full report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center at www.justicereinvestment.org.
The Regular Session begins on Wednesday, February 13th.