By Matt de Simone
Last Tuesday at the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors meeting, Commonwealth’s Attorney John Alexander gave an update on the progress of the new Drug Treatment Court.
Last spring, Alexander launched a program to help nonviolent offenders suffering from addiction.
The program offers a chance for offenders who want to change. It doesn’t mean they are out of trouble, as they would remain under supervision and must want to turn their lives around. These programs have high success rates. The class is still in the developmental phase.
These types of programs are standard nationwide. According to Virginia’s Legislative Information System’s (LIS) Virginia Drug Treatment Courts 2020 Annual Report, drug treatment court dockets have been operating in the Commonwealth for more than 20 years. Their efficacy and effectiveness are well documented.
In times of severe budget cuts, the drug treatment court docket model offers state and local governments a cost-effective way to increase the percentage of sustained recovery of addicted offenders, thereby improving public safety and reducing costs associated with rearrest and additional incarceration.
Alexander introduced new members of his team to the board, which include team members Division Director for Adult and Family Services at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare Letitia Hawkins-Beatty, Drug Court Coordinator Karen Burroughs, Peer Recovery Specialist Dakota Lewis, and State Probation Officer Leigh Martin.
During the presentation, Board Chairman Mac Scothorn asked Alexander about the cost savings of the Drug Treatment Court. Alexander was unable to answer the question. Since the meeting, Alexander contacted The Fincastle Herald revealing that the 2020 Drug Treatment Court Annual Summary (Virginia Supreme Court Office of the Executive Secretary) estimated a savings that year of nearly $12 million in Virginia.
The report says that each participant in the program saves the Commonwealth $19,234 as compared to traditional case processing, as previously reported in the July 28, 2021 edition of The Herald.