CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants is focusing on curbing crime by dedicating a grand jury session primarily to drug offenders.
A grand jury sitting the week of Nov. 18 indicted 70 county residents, 67 of them for illegal drug violations. Arraignments for those people are scheduled this month.
Plants said his intention is to get as many dealers and addicts off the streets as possible.
"The goal is to remove as many drug offenders from the community as possible," Plants said. "The less drugs in the community, the less crime there will be in our community.
"Most crime is directly or indirectly connected to drugs," he said. "People talk about drugs but I don't think they know how closely drugs are related to all crime.
"If we can attack the drug end of it, if we can reduce the drugs, it will reduce burglaries, robberies, domestic batteries," he said.
Drug offenders dominate the dockets of all of the county's circuit court judges. And those judges often admit that in attempting to help or punish drug abusers, not enough treatment programs exist.
"We're in dire need in Kanawha County and statewide of drug treatment facilities," Plants admits. "I'm certainly not going to let the lack of facilities prevent me from prosecuting drug offenders.
"If the system gets overloaded, it's a greater indication that we need more," he said. "But there are still alternatives out there like drug court and day report, which has a drug treatment program.
"I think any law enforcement and any prosecutor would agree we need more," Plants said.