State and local officials gathered Friday in a court room at the Cabell County Courthouse. They came together to re-dedicate the existing drug court program by changing the name from Cabell County Drug Court to Cabell-Huntington Drug Court. They also announced a new program within the drug court: the Women’s Empowerment and Addiction Recovery program.
It’s designed specifically for women engaging in prostitution to support a drug habit. It follows the same one-year model as drug court, but with changes that cater to female clients, such as domestic violence counseling, family planning, trauma treatment and a course about healthy sexuality. Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli said expanding the drug court to help these women is essential.
“This is absolutely critical because this is what’s going to solve that problem,” Ciccarelli said. “The prostitution issue is a subset of the larger drug problem, every one of these prostitutes is a drug addict, till we fix the addiction piece, we’re going to have to deal with the prostitution piece.”
Prostitution arrests have doubled in Huntington since 2010 as heroin use numbers have risen. Law enforcement officials blame the resurgence of heroin as a cheaper alternative to prescription pain pills for the uptick in cases of prostitution.
“It’s a hand-in-hand situation and these are all interrelated problems so you have to address them comprehensively, you have to be attacking the drug problem, you have to be attacking the prostitution problem, not unlike how we’ve attacked the property crime issue because that again is another subset of a larger problem,” Ciccarelli said.
Drug court is a one-year program that is completed in phases. Only non-violent, felony offenders are eligible for the program and have to be approved by the judge and prosecutor for the program.