The prison reform bill, which is meant to cut down on state prison populations and save the state millions of dollars, would create alternative sentence options for judges.
Instead of sending someone to prison, judges would have the option to sentence the person to a substance abuse treatment program.
Like drug courts, that would save the state money in the short term because the individuals are not housed in jails or prisons. It also saves money in the long-term because they are less likely to commit new crimes and re-enter the justice system.
"That is a great working model for how justice reinvestment is supposed to work," Canterbury said. "There's a savings that keeps on giving."
Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, asked Benjamin if violent offenders also could be included in drug courts.
"Crimes of violence can be so broad," he said.
Ellem noted someone who steals a purse and knocks the victim to the ground could be considered a violent offender.
Benjamin said West Virginia's court system is not large enough or wealthy enough to support that large of an expansion to drug courts. He also said violent offenders might deserve stricter sentences.
"There is a point at which a person needs to pay a price, too. That's not traditionally the type of people we have dealt with," he said.
Following Benjamin's presentation, Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, sang the praises of drug courts.
He said the program arrived in his county about a year ago and while the court has not been around long enough to produce definitive data, he has noticed a significant change in McDowell's drug problems.
"I've seen a major turnaround in children and families in McDowell," Moore said.