CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The creation of an adult drug court in Putnam County might be the last opportunity officials have to save drug offenders from prison time, the county's prosecutor said last week.
Newly elected Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder, who took office in December, said he's beginning to organize the adult drug court, which he said he wanted to create during his election campaign.
"We are in the early stages," Reeder said of the court, scheduled to start in June. "We have been in contact with officials in other counties and we intend to observe what they are doing in those counties to see if what they are doing may be applicable to Putnam County."
Putnam Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia said the adult drug court is an obvious step for the county, which is dealing with a rising jail bill from prescription drug and heroin abuse, among other things.
"I think it's a good idea and the next step for us to take here. We've done most other things -- the juvenile drug court, community corrections and day report," Sorsaia said. "Anything we can do to try to deal with the drug problem is a good thing."
Sorsaia told county commissioners last month that in the past two years, felony cases have gone up by 20 percent mainly because of drugs. Commissioners have been trying to come up with ways to deal with the regional jail bill, which has gone up about $300,000 in two years.
However, Sorsaia said he doesn't see the jail bill going down anytime soon, especially if the state doesn't create a drug treatment center.
"I don't know what else we can do. [The adult drug court] is the last thing we haven't tried.... It'll help, anything is needed, but I think we've maxed out our diversion capabilities," he said.