BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Bedford County is taking another step to help tackle the drug addiction problem in the county.
On Tuesday, Bedford County officials, departments, treatment providers, and community groups announced their cooperation in combating drug addiction through the establishment of a Drug Treatment Court and other supporting measures.
In a press release, Bedford County Commissioner Barry Dallar said, “We have initially focused on those with addiction problems that have involvement in the criminal justice system as they are both the easiest to identify and the most at risk.”
Other Drug Treatment Courts in the Commonwealth use a proven model of intensive court supervision and treatment to provide non-violent criminal defendants the best opportunity to break the cycle of addiction and reduce recidivism.
The new court will implement tactics such as monthly court visits, field visits before court appearances and multiple drug tests a week. In some cases, journaling or reading assignments could be required from the participants.
“Short term, [it] gets people in the program. It’s going to be less incarceration. The overall benefit to the community and society as a whole is less drug users and abusers, more people educated – better educated, and having housing and parenting skills,” Dwight Diehl, District Attorney for Bedford County said.
The initiatives will be funded primarily from the County’s share of the opioid settlement funds distributed throughout the Commonwealth.
The typical drug treatment program is 2 years. Bedford County will also have a similar timeframe and additional probation could be added.
In addition to sobriety and treatment, Drug Treatment Court participants are also required to obtain education, gain employment, complete community service, and attend group sessions.
“It depends on how you come in [court] with it. There can be a reduction of the charges by the district attorney. It could be a reduction of a sentence,” Travis Livengood, the President Judge for Bedford County Court of Common Pleas said.
As part of the opioid settlement funds, the Commissioners have committed to funding personnel in the Probation Office and Correctional Facility, purchasing drug testing equipment, providing means of transportation for participants, and assisting with staffing of treatment providers.
Potential participants can be referred to the program by their lawyer or a judge. Applications will be required to enter the program and filtered through a Drug Court Coordinator. Officials noted that the program is specifically for non-violent drug offenders.
Bedford County’s Drug Treatment Court is expected to be fully functioning by early 2024.