Court helps to treat addiction

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Cumberland County says its recently-accredited Treatment Court is improving communities and saving tax dollars.

“Right now, with the heroin problem, we’re having a lot of people who are getting maybe retail theft, other kinds of burglaries or break-ins to support their habit,” Treatment Court coordinator Paul Polensky said. “They would end up in Treatment Court.”

The program runs a minimum of 15 months. It’s a way for people to get help for underlying drug and alcohol issues while still paying for their crimes.

“They’re going to do 90 meetings in 90 days, they’re going to go to treatment, they’re going to come for drug testing at least three times a week, they’re going to meet with the judge on Thursday mornings, and they’re going to meet with their probation officer once a week,” Polensky said.

Treatment Court’s recent accreditation means the program is recognized for meeting national standards. Polensky says he’s hoping that will lead to more funding so he can make more improvements.

The goal of expanding upon the existing program is to stop the cycle of prison time and improve local neighborhoods.

“We’re going to return to the community individuals who are going to be working, who are going to be sober,” Polensky said. “They’re going to be paying taxes. They’re not going to be committing crimes.”

Treatment Court statistics show roughly 60 percent of people who go through the typical prison system will go back to criminal activity. The recidivism rate for Treatment Court is eight percent.

There’s also a financial component. Cumberland County statistics show one group of active participants last year saved more 15,000 prison bed days, which in turn saved taxpayers more than $1 million.

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