All West Virginia Cities

One Drug Court saved over $2M in 4 years

On January 24 of 2013 five drug-free graduates of a yearlong drug court program shared their joy with family, friends and law enforcement. The five graduates are: Harold Lee Battle, Alan Mason, Michal "Betsy" Raines, Marisa Martin and Mona Tignor (from Zac Taylor’s report in the Charleston Gazette ( In Taylor’s report, Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey (who leads the drug court) brought out that 38 participants have graduated from the program since its start in 2009. Only 13.8 percent, or about 5, were arrested subsequently. But of great significance is the fact that the cost to the region for jailing these 38 people would have been $2,362,000.

The diversionary program overseen by the drug court is for those who are addicted to drugs and have been arrested and charged with minor crimes. If they agree to enter this program the offenders are extensively tested, receive therapy, and work in a community service program. Prosecutors who work with the program agree to dismiss the criminal charges of the participants when they complete the program.

Two of the five (Raines and Tignor) had clean drug screens throughout their yearlong program. Tignor gave a certificate of appreciation to the officers who arrested her. Battle is very glad that he can now talk clearly and see clearly.

An added benefit of being in this program and not being in jail is that participants can also work. Mason serves as a cook, Martin and Raines serve as cashiers. Raines also serves as a carrier for Charleston Newspapers.

And best of all Mason is able to function as a father of two. Family life can be strengthened. Families can be strengthened. Friends and neighbors can encourage and be encouraged by these drug court programs and their 85 percent success rate.

Not every substance-abusing person who commits and is convicted of a criminal activity, especially if it is relatively minor in nature, must serve jail time. The sheer volume of persons convicted, the enormous financial costs, the social and familial emotional costs, necessitate thinking “outside the yard.” The drug courts are an alternative where we do not remain adversaries but advocates for one another. And having over $2.3M for other societal problems is surely a worthy benefit in these tough fiscal times!


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