Prosecutor reaching out to addicts
Published 10:09 am Thursday, April 21, 2016
Program designed to give others second chance
Three years ago a farm blossomed on the banks of the Ohio River near Haverhill. Its intent was to offer a way for certain jail inmates and those in community service programs to work off their time.
As they were doing that, they had the opportunity to learn skills they might never have developed.
However, mounting costs ceased to make the farm a viable project, according to D.R. Gossett, executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, main organizer of the farm.
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“We are not doing that this year,” he said. “There was a lot of expense and it was not a very efficient way.”
Now the CAO is joining forces with the new diversionary program devised by Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.
“It is a coordinated effort with the county prosecutor and the One-Stop Center,” Gossett said. “Our objective is to give good experiences to individuals who have the opportunity to redirect themselves. Our role would be connecting people to jobs and jobs skills and behavioral health services. Anything we can do to support the prosecutor’s efforts. Like if we can help with grant writing. “
Anderson recently received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the program geared for low-level non-violent felony offenders.
“There is pretty extensive criteria,” Anderson said. “If an individual qualifies, they are put into the program. If successful, the charge will go away.”
Anderson’s goal is to reduce the jail population while offering treatment for addiction.
“People who get into the program are going to have to want to change their lives,” he said. “They are going to want to redirect their lives, focusing on positives like getting a job and good housing.”
The six-to-12 month program will offer family counseling, mental health counseling and in-patient treatment at local facilities. Medical cards or insurance will pick up patient costs.
Josh Whaley, the new director, is already going to the courts to see about signing up participants.
“No county funds will be spent but we think it is going to save the county a lot of money,” Anderson said. “We cannot arrest our way out of this drug problem. We have to be forward thinkers.”