Putnam County becomes 34th WV county to launch an adult drug cou - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Putnam County becomes 34th WV county to launch an adult drug court

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Although Monday was the opening of a new adult drug court in Putnam County, the officials in that county are no stranger to the way the drug court program has worked in the state.

There are now only 20 counties without the program, officials said.

Judge Joseph Reeder said his staff members have been working over the last year to establish the court in Putnam County, making it the 34th county in the state to receive the program, according to Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin.

"It is something that benefits our community greatly," Reeder said. "One commitment I made to the people of Putnam County (when becoming a judge) was to establish a drug court."

One woman who graduated from the Kanawha County Adult Drug Court spoke Monday about her experiences to the group of Putnam County officials and community members.

"I just needed to be taught because that's what I always wanted, in my heart," Tracy Jividen-Haynes, drug court graduate, said of the program. "I needed that structure, I  needed the tools to learn."

Haynes had a criminal background and said by the time she was 19 she had been indicted on 56 criminal counts including 12 felonies. Upon the indictment, Haynes spent 10 years in a state correctional institution. 

"I lived inside of Lakin (Correctional Center) and made what was inside of Lakin my whole life," she said. "I didn't wake up one day and say ‘hey I'm going to be a menace to society.'"

Haynes said she needed someone to intervene in her life that could teach her how to be something other than a criminal and drug user.

"These people really are listening to me -- these people really believe in me," she said of the drug court program. "Somebody believed in me."

She said she can now be proud her son, Jaxon, was born drug free and she and her husband, Jeffery, can stick to taking care of their children.

"This is real and I have so much more plans," she said. "I am not done yet. Not one bit."

Benjamin said the overall costs of the adult drug court programs in the state last year were $3 million. However, the Mountain State saved $21 million from those who participated in the program not being incarcerated for drug-related crimes. 

With a net savings of $17 million for the state, Benjamin said that is only a rough estimate of how much money could potentially be saved from having the program in all counties by 2016.

"I think of where we started in 2005 with just one, it's been an interesting development," he said. "I'm very happy with it. It's a wonderful program and we have well over 600-700 graduates (so far) with over 90 percent of them not reoffending."