CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Thirty-one steep steps in an old building at 104 E. Washington St. lead criminal offenders into a facility that, if they obey the rules, will keep them out of jail.
The Jefferson County office of the Berkeley/Jefferson Day Report Center opened in August.
The center is a Community Corrections treatment program for adults charged with felonies and misdemeanors. Most have histories of substance abuse or dependency, anger management or domestic relations problems.
"We don't accept violent offenders or those charged with sex offenses," said Joseph P. Sacchet, executive director of the agency that opened in Martinsburg, W.Va., at 406 S. Raleigh St. in October 2009.
Clients include adjudicated offenders who are sent to the center in lieu of jail time or those on probation. They stay seven to nine months, Sacchet said. Others on pretrial diversion who, if they satisfactorily complete its 12-month program, avoid jail altogether.
The Martinsburg center handles about 40 clients with demand increasing, Sacchet said. The new Jefferson County office has about 10, and there are nine in Morgan County.
The Jefferson County office is open Tuesday and Thursday with staff from Martinsburg. It will be open full time in July once a new round of grant money comes in, Sacchet said.
Berkeley and Jefferson county governments each give the center $37,000 a year in operating funds. In turn, they save $48 a day for every client the center keeps out of the West Virginia Eastern Regional Jail, Sacchet said.
The center's programs include Alcohol Anonymous, anger management, drug and alcohol counseling, life skills, relapse prevention, individual and cognitive therapy, problem gambling counseling and basic education.
All clients are subject to weekly random drug testing and most have to do community service on supervised road clean-up crews weekends, Sacchet said.
County magistrates — more than circuit court judges — tend to send eligible offenders to the centers, Sacchet said.