WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin told state business leaders Wednesday the court's drug court initiative has saved the state millions of dollars in its fight against substance abuse.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office has formed a new task force within his office that will tackle the issue.
Benjamin and Morrisey addressed members attending the state Chamber of Commerce's annual Business Summit, taking place Wednesday through Saturday at The Greenbrier.
Benjamin said in the last few years, the court's drug and juvenile court initiatives saved the state $17 million in costs annually.
He said that success led the Legislature to expand the local drug and juvenile court pilot programs to a full statewide program.
He said 500 people have already graduated from the drug court program, with 500 people currently participating in it statewide.
"Those are lives that are being saved right now," Benjamin said. "So not only is it dollar savings, it's life savings."
He also praised the results of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's Justice Reinvestment reform initiative, which was designed to reduce overcrowding in the state's prisons by addressing problems like recidivism and a lack of proper substance abuse treatment for prisoners.
Had the Legislature not passed that bill earlier this year, Benjamin said it was likely the court may have intervened to address the overcrowding problem.