Hanover offering new drug treatment court for non-violent criminals

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — At a time when heroin use is considered an epidemic, Hanover is taking steps to help criminals with addictions turn their lives around.

Beginning in January, the county will be offering adult drug court. It’s an alternative approach to traditional justice already used in Richmond, Chesterfield and neighboring Henrico.

“We see this as a real opportunity to make a difference for people to try to break the cycle of drug abuse and crime and turn their lives around,” explains deputy county administrator Jim Taylor.

Taylor says over the past four years, 18 people have overdosed on heroin and died in Hanover. Drug related crimes are also on the rise.

“There is this problem and business as usual isnt working,” adds Taylor, “Sheriff Hynes here in Hanover has said we can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem, so it’s time to do things differently.”

The program will target non-violent offenders who violate probation. Instead of locking them up in jail, the court will work on sobering them up. Participants will undergo treatment sessions, bi-weekly appearances in court, curfews as well as random drug and alcohol testing.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, people who graduate from these kinds of programs are less likely to get arrested again.

“This is about changing your life and for those people who are ready for something different, ready for a change, this is an opportunity for them,” says Taylor.

That opportunity begins in January for six people chosen for the pilot program. It will be funded by the state. Hanover hopes to ultimately expand the program, but it will need federal dollars to pay for it.