CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Putnam County circuit judge candidates say if they could help deal with drug use, it would address the county's problems with jail overcrowding.
In a conversation with Gazette editors last week, Democrats David L. Hill, Rosalee Juba-Plumley and J. Robert Leslie Jr. and Republicans Edward Eagloski and Joseph K. "Joe" Reeder said alternative sentencing and rehabilitation programs need to be examined to control a rising number of drug-related crimes.
Reeder, a Hurricane attorney, said he would be interested in introducing an adult drug court to Putnam. Other candidates agreed and said they would also continue to support the county's juvenile drug program.
"We're seeing young people's lives thrown away with felony drug convictions," Reeder said.
Kids and young adults need incentives to stay off drugs and jail isn't always the answer, said Hill, a Hurricane attorney.
"Stopping drug use would stop a lot of crime," Hill said.
Juba-Plumley, a Poca attorney, said she has dealt with a number of court-appointed drug cases, and said Putnam, like everywhere else, has a lot of drug abusers.
"They're richer kids, but they still do the same drugs," she said.
Kanawha County offers an adult drug court but only for those with felony charges, she said. Once someone already has a felony conviction, options to rebuild their life are slim.
"It's a vicious cycle," she said. "We need to quit building prisons and build treatment facilities."