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Morgan Co. eyes alternative sentencing program

August 15, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- An alternative sentencing program to incarceration that was accepted in Berkeley and Jefferson counties is being considered by the Morgan County Commission.

Joseph P. Sacchet, executive director of the Berkeley/Jefferson Day Report Center, told the commission Thursday that the cost to participate in the program would be less than the $48.80 the county now pays per day to incarcerate one person in Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, W.Va.

The treatment program is offered to adults charged with nonviolent felony or misdemeanor offenses and who have a history of substance abuse or dependency, anger management and/or domestic relations problems, Sacchet said.

Those accepted into the program are closely supervised by Day Report Center personnel and receive random drug testing, Sacchet said.

They also receive treatment services such as alcohol and drug counseling, but still maintain family responsibilities and employment, he said.

"I like the program because it is on the 'front end' instead of those getting out," Sacchet said.

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Morgan County Prosecutor Debra MH McLaughlin said other than incarceration, the county now offers only unsupervised probation or home confinement.

"This is a much stricter alternative," she said.

"Our biggest issue is the lack of drug counseling (in Morgan County)," McLaughlin said.

Sacchet said he will drive a van to take participants from Morgan County to the Day Report Center on Raleigh Street in Martinsburg.

Sacchet said with grant funding, he hopes another person can be hired to drive participants.

McLaughlin said now is the time for the county to get started on the program to take advantage of the criminal justice grants that are available.

"I think it's a great idea," Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said.

"It's a good deal for us and may turn the person into a better citizen," Commissioner Thomas R. Swaim said.

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