State Senate approves drug treatment bill that could allow diversion of felony drug offenses

Jan. 31, 2008 A proposal to help arrested drug addicts be treated before heading to trial won unanimous approval in the Senate today.  Senate Bill 72, co-sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, and Senate Minority Floor Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, passed on a 36-0 vote and now heads to the House for its consideration. 

“What we’re doing is not working,” Worley said. Kelly noted that if the state spending on correction now had kept pace with spending in 1970, it would cost $50 million to house prisoners today. Instead, he said, the commonwealth spends around $400 million.

  Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, recognized the impact on the state budget. “We’re sacrificing educational dollars for prison dollars,” he said. 

Under the plan, those charged with a felony would be screened for substance abuse problems before they appear for trial. At the trial judge’s discretion, the offender could be ordered into a recovery program as a condition of bail.

If they completed the pretrial diversion program and did not commit any other offenses, the charges could eventually be dropped and no felony listed on their record.   

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