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Westmoreland Co. Looking To Tackle Addiction Issues With Drug Court

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) – Experts say people dealing with hardcore addiction issues and the judicial system have a pattern of arrest, court, jail, release – arrest, court, jail, release.

This sometimes even ends with death.

That’s why in Westmoreland County, they’re instituting a special court for those people who are battling drug addiction.

Dirk Matson, Director of Westmoreland County’s Human Services says when it comes to addiction and incarceration in the county, it’s simple as it is sad.

“Our jails are full of drug addicts that have to be detoxed on their own in prison and they’re not getting any help while they’re there,” said Matson.

But it’s hoped that will soon change with the development of drug court.

“We’ve had a system that’s focused on punitive measures throwing in jail and forgetting about them,” said Matson.

Instead, drug court will focus on healing the addict to stop the crime.

“Drug court itself is a voluntary commitment,” said Matson. “They have to agree to be there.”

“When they go in, the judge hears the case, finds out the circumstances, they talk about a diversion program or treatment to try to stop the cycle,” he added.

Once the individual agrees to treatment and intense supervision, “drug courts typically have probation and case managers who follow he cases a lot closer than regular probation or parole does,” Matson said.

Drug courts are already in practice in 70 other Pennsylvania court systems the returns appear positive and rehab versus return to jail is a bargain for tax payers.

“In the long run, it’s cheaper to treat,” said Matson. “If they don’t get their drug addiction resolved, they continue to commit crimes.”

And if all goes as planned, the new drug court will be instituted sometime in the fall.

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