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New Approach to Treating Drug Crimes in Schuylkill County

POTTSVILLE -- Schuylkill County is taking a new approach to reducing crime and deal with its overcrowded prison by starting a drug treatment court.

Schuylkill County's newly formed drug treatment court focuses on treating criminals dealing with addiction.

Defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges packed a courtroom inside the Schuylkill County Courthouse for an hour-long seminar on the county's new drug treatment court.

"Myself, as the chief law enforcement officer in Schuylkill County, I have been advocating for this program for some time and I am really proud to be a part of the team," said Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman.

According to the D.A., 40 percent of the crimes that occur in Schuylkill County are drug-related. The new drug treatment court offers nonviolent offenders dealing with drug addiction an alternative to ending up in the county jail with a record.

But the program is not going to be easy to complete.

"They need to report weekly to meet with the judge.  The judge will speak to them for a few minutes. The drug court team will be reviewing their progress. So, there is going to be nothing that we don't know about these applicants and what they are doing on a day-to-day basis," said Holman.

The drug treatment court in Schuylkill County will be limited to about 30 people at a time. It is intended to be an intensive program. Each participant will have to be a part of it for 14 months. The hope, obviously, is to reduce crime in the county. But also the hope is that trickles down into reducing the number of inmates in Schuylkill County's overcrowded prison."

"The research is there, the statistics are there. Drug courts work. We are going to do our best to implement it correctly. I think if we do, we can make a dent in the drug problem in our county," said public defender Michael Stine.

Nonviolent offenders who successfully complete the program get their charges dismissed and can even potentially get the charges expunged from their records.

However, if you fail the program, it's straight to jail. Those offenders agree to plead guilty and be sentenced.

14 comments

  • Zilla

    Is anybody going to address the circumstances in which these people get hooked on drugs in the first place? Was it because they fought for our country and came back with PTSD, suffered an injury and turned to cheaper fixes once they were hooked on pharmaceutical opiates, or untreated/misdiagnosed mental disorders? Most of the news coming from Schuylkill County is business’ closing their doors. Is this because of unfair taxation and regulation on small business’ that the communities depend on? I’m trying to look at the broader spectrum here, but not finding the source and stopping it is kind of working backwards. Those law abiding citizens there might as well start wearing body camera’s and putting up barbed wire fences if this is the approach however. You can pretty much call it “New Detroit” when you take struggling citizens money to pay for the people that are stealing from them. Double theft doesn’t bode well for community or prosperity. Good people tend to leave. If I’m wrong? Let me know.

    • Chic

      They don’t care what the underlying causes are. They know they got a new piece of meat to chew on. These drug courts are not free. My program costs about 2 grand. When I went to court for my case most of the people were there for smoking pot. Not much of a criminal offense, but these people will be tortured into next year.

      • Zilla

        I don’t puff, but it is ridiculous that a plant that the Founding Fathers grew and harvested is so criminalized when worse legal means of alteration are deemed justified for revenue. On the front, and the back. That seems like a system of indentured enslavement to a common mindset. People were discarding needles in Shenandoah last year, and when the snow melted? We got a story. “What got them there?”, is my question. Lack of society? Money from pharmaceutical companies? We NEED to stop that first. The human brain is a tricky thing that is also the means of everything that we depend on in society, and community. What is the reason for these people wanting to alter it’s path? What was the beginning of the fall of Rome? They’d be better off asking 40 or 50 drug addicts how to fix this problem than asking the people that make a living off of it is my point.

    • Chic

      Yes, the numbers are ridiculous. 40% in jail for non-violent drug related criminal offenses. That’s not a problem w the individual, that’s a problem w their environment and society. I’m agreeing w you. From my little experience, These drug courts are excessive, overbearing, unnecessary and stressful. Someone has to stop them drug in their tracks. They are not helping our children they are persecuting them, literally sucking the life out of them.
      I had a drug screen yesterday morning, the room was overflowing w young people. They all knew each other , were mostly program repeaters and had come from the 7am court required attendance of a local AA meeting. AA has been so overwhelmed w these court ordered people that its completely lost its integrity and effectiveness.
      Give these kids something to live for, something to look forward too, otherwise if I ws them I’d sty in jail just to be rid off the whole system, criminal background be damned. There is such a thing as working for yourself after all.
      Personally I should have taken my dui as this has been an overwhelming traumatic event for me. Certainly not worth it for a first time offender.

  • get a grip!

    Doing drugs is not an addiction. It’s a choice. I woke up this morning and CHOSE not to do drugs today. Tonight, I’m going to bed drug free. No classes, no court, and no rehab. See how that works?! SIMPLY AMAZING!!!!!

    • Chic

      After being on the flight deck of the CMC for 5 days….I can say only 2 of the people were flat out nuts. The other 20 or so had mostly either overwhelming long term illnesses that pushed them into depression or other traumatic events that caused them to delve into drugs such as domestic violence, For them it’s not a choice. They reach for the first thing they can find. Who can blame them.
      What caused me to go there is I kept being threatened w jail, even tho I was always in compliance and I couldn’t imagine living thru it. I literally could not stop crying and I had stopped taking my meds and eating.
      The people who are running these drug courts need to be monitored themselves because I know I would never had been there otherwise.
      So it’s not always a choice.

  • nogood

    Great, just another program us taxpayers can foot the bill for. Everyone should have this same opportunity to have their charges expunged. Criminals/druggies get to skate through a program on the grounds they show up once a week for a few minutes and at the end of their time in the program all their charges get dropped? Lets just hold their hands some more why dont we? As if their families dont do that enough. This disgusts me!

    • Chic

      It’s all a scam. I knew it was a scam before I entered the program. Me, when I complete my program, I’m going camping for a month in one of those gussied up national parks in Colorado.. I’ll be up in smoke the entire time. Checking out where to live cause there’s nothing in this valley but 9 dollar an hour jobs and the criminal justice system. Adios amigo!

    • Everybody's a tough guy

      We’re open to suggestions. Locking people doesn’t seem to stem the problem… so playin’ tough guy may give you a tingle in the nether regions, but it has not solved the problem.

      And for those who like to point the finger at “the other,” if substance abuse/addiction hasn’t touched your family–son or daughter, niece or nephew, or grandchild– it will. There is not a person reading this who doesn’t have some member of family dealing with addiction. You just might not be aware yet. When it’s your kid on the gurney in the ER, remember your “hard-azz, lockem up” mindset!

      • Chic

        Trust me, they are legalized bullies. No one has challenged their tactics or programs yet. I want an exit interview. I think everyone should be asked and given the opportunity to express their opinion as part of the completion of their program. And the results should be compiled by an independent service and reviewed by an oversight to weed out the bad actors.

  • Chic

    Most of the people in the drug courts wii have full medical assistance. So the state is gonna pay for them anyway. Drug courts are not what the federal government had in mind when they gave the state money to provide drug treatment and services. The Feds meant TREATMENT and SERVICES, not just another way to generate money from the already beyond poor. The only people here benefiting are the lawyers, medical specialists, the police, the hospitals, and the rest of those sap $uckers. Their clients will be harassed and threatened at every turn with jail. I know.

    • Chic

      And how do I know this? Because I’m in the Lackawanna county ARD program and they harassed me so much I ended up at CMC flight deck for 5 days. Guess who’s paying for that. MA. God knows the cost of that and I’m sure the Feds didn’t want me there as part of treatment and services.

  • Capt Bogart

    Maybe you can also give the addicts some kind of Access card so that the PA taxpayers can pay for their drugs. Then no more break ins and robberies!

Comments are closed.