For the first time the City of Virginia Beach is giving drug offenders a new chance. Partners from across the city are starting a drug court targeting addicts.
It is an effort more than two years in the making. This different program offers drug offenders the opportunity to get treatment to get better. Only 13News Now took viewers inside the courtroom to talk to the stakeholders trying to address the problem of drug-related crime.
Virginia Beach prosecutors consistently see people coming through the court system addicted to drugs.
“They simply do not have the tools in place to be able to combat their addiction,” Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle said.
We asked Stolle if it seems like there is a revolving door in and out of the court system and the jail system for those particular offenders.
“You have addicts who reoffend over and over and over again,” Stolle responded. “They're not violent. The right place for them is not a penitentiary cell.”
The hope is, the new drug court will be the right place. Only particular addicts are admitted. No one who is a violent criminal or a danger to the community can participate.
There are four phases, all of which include strict supervision, random drug screens, meetings and treatment.
“They will be monitored closely between our clinicians through adult correctional services and adult day treatment services and through probation and parole,” explained Shelby Giles of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services.
That could take eighteen to twenty-four months.
“The system it is large,” Giles added. “It can be overwhelming for someone.”
Back in the courtroom, we asked Stolle the skeptic's question: Why are tax dollars being used to treat a drug addict’s problem?
“There's no additional money,” described. “There is nothing coming from the city or the state to do this. Every single agency involved in this drug court are volunteering their time in order to make this happen.”
“Making this happen” could mean less money going to house drug offenders behind bars, as the cycle of addiction breaks.
“It's either go to prison or even overdose on the street or try this drug treatment program and see if they can finally get the tools they need to live a productive life,” Stolle added.
There are also punitive measures if participants fall off the wagon.