I have a lot of things on my Bucket List when it comes to making our community an even better place to live. My top priority on that list is doing Everything Possible to help eliminate illegal drugs. For those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, I want to help them find freedom so they can get their lives back.
Almost every person I meet has a friend or loved one affected by addiction. My family has been affected by it as well. Illegal Drugs I believe, have proven to be one of the biggest issues we face in Carroll County and around the Country.
Approximately 2 years ago Out of the Box Worship Center in Hillsville, where I pastor, began Recovery at Hillsville for those who are addicted to anything unhealthy. On average, we work with 50 men and women each week who have said they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We provide a free meal at 6 pm, a worship service at 7 pm, a Recovery based message at 7:30 pm, and open share groups at 8:15 pm. We lovingly provide Children’s and Youth Ministries to make it possible for people with children or teenagers to attend these important meetings. We work with an average of 100 people each week through Recovery at Hillsville.
Recently, our church began a ministry with men and women in the New River Valley Regional Jail, in Dublin, Virginia. I, along with our Associate Pastor David Payne, are able to visit up to 3 inmates each on many Fridays throughout the year. We then write and correspond with the inmates to share recovery information, as well as bible study. We are currently working with more than 20 individuals from our local community. It has become very time consuming; writing letters to more than 20 individuals, visiting with these men and women when possible, and going to court with them at their request and the request of their attorneys. Many times going to court for one individual requires us to be there from 9 am until the end of the day. We are blessed to do these ministries, and further, the men and women we work with are worth every minute of time we give. However, we need to do more as a community. I have been researching, and one of the best scientifically proven tools we could implement in our community is called “Drug Court.”
Drug Court is a place where people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can go, if they choose, to perform court supervised recovery work. The first step is they have to be deemed a candidate for this program by the Commonwealth Attorney. Drug dealers or violent criminal offenders are not candidates for this type of program; as their cases are heard and decided in criminal court rather than drug court. Drug Court is made up of a judge, local law enforcement, mental health workers, and other community leaders. One judge said, “It is much harder for an addict to go to and work through Drug Court than it is to go to jail.” It is not for those who are trying to get out of trouble, it is for those who want freedom from addiction and to get their life back.
Drug Court is a Court run treatment program that provides people the tools to get and stay clean and sober, if they want it. It gives them a chance to be productive citizens. Drug court is much harder for the individual than spending time in jail.
(David Ashworth, Drug Court Judge)
Of every 100 inmates serving 1 year in jail at a cost of $30,000 each, statistics show 70 will re-offend. That’s a cost of 1.2 million dollars. Graduates from drug court cost $8,000 per person per year statistics show only 22 re-offend at a savings of 1.4 million dollars. (Tina Nadeau, Drug Court Judge)
On average, Virginia’s Drug Courts save $19,234 per person as compared to traditional case processing. (Virginia Drug Court Task force)
$ Virginia drug courts have a robust and sustained impact on the recidivism compared to the “business-as-usual” alternatives.
$ The lower recidivism rate of drug court participants leads to lower outcome and victimization costs for the drug court group
$ These lower outcome and victimization costs, & placement costs, result in average savings of almost $20,000 per drug court participant, relative to the costs of “business-as-usual” processing.
$ Virginia drug courts are cost-effective.
I will be a Drug Court supporter and advocate for Carroll County as your Fancy Gap District Supervisor. I need your support. There will be a primary election this spring and then a General Election in November, I need your vote in each of these elections.
Please share your thoughts.
Ronnie G Collins
Included are 2 videos to learn more about Drug Court.
“Drug Courts are the single most powerful and innovative tool available to the criminal justice system in the fight against drug abuse.” Hon. Thomas Horne, Judge (Retired) Loudoun County Circuit Court