Tazewell County’s Drug Court is now funded by the state.

Circuit Court Judge Jack S. Hurley Jr. made the announcement during a graduation ceremony for a member of the program June 19. The announcement from the state Supreme Court said drug courts in Tazewell, Russell, Buchanan, Dickenson and several other counties would be continuously funded started July 1.

The state originally funded 14 drug court programs in the state, and the other, which Tazewell was a part of, had to solicit grants and local funding to operate. Hurley said the decision means drug courts will continue to be around.

Hurley said drug courts currently serve 1.5 million people nationwide. He said locally there are third and possibly fourth generations battling addiction. The judge, who serves as the leader of Tazewell County’s drug court and has for seven years, said he initially thought drug court was “soft on crime” and wanted to get his clients in it when he was a defense attorney.

He asked the drug court participants to raise their hand if they thought drug court was easier than probation or doing time, and no one raised a hand. He said drug court has been studied more than any judicial process that has ever happened, and they work. He said they reduce recidivism 58% and the cost of drug court is between $9,000 and $16,000 compared to an average of $25-31,000 for incarceration.

“When moms get kids back, they get their homes and jobs, and they are paying taxes rather than using taxes to incarcerate them — life is good,” Hurley said.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Katie Gallagher echoed Hurley’s statements and said the program changed people’s lives.

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran was the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony. He said Hurley enjoys a state and national reputation as a drug court advocate and a leader on the issue.

He told the graduate he traveled 303 miles to be there and congratulated her for completing the program.

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jtalbert@richlands-news-press.com

276-963-1081 | Twitter: @jimrnp

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