Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire retired this week after 16 years on the bench. His time as a judge may be over but Hogshire hopes his legacy will live on.
He has been a champion behind a drug court, which he says gets people clean while saving taxpayer dollars. The program for nonviolent offenders puts them through an intense, one-year plan of a weekly court session, testing and treatment.
Judge Hogshire says drug court is a win/win situation. People are willing to attend drug court because, if successful, the drug charge can be reduced or completely dropped in some cases.
It's a way to keep people out of jail while giving addicts the help they need to turn their lives around.
"He empathizes with the people easily because he knows so many, he understands them and he listens to them and he cares about them and they know that," said Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman.
Judge Hogshire says drug court is the most effective thing he's ever done while on the bench.
He says an often dramatic transformation is proof the court-supervised drug treatment program works. Being just plain frank about it, he says initially "people in front of me come in and they are train wrecks basically," but after drug court, "they look different physically, sometimes you wouldn't recognize them and that's fun. That's really exciting to see."
Hogshire held his final drug court last week. Almost 300 people have graduated during his 16 years at the helm. "We’re improving the odds. Every day they're in treatment the odds get better that they're going to stay clean," he stated.
Hogshire has been a staunch advocate of drug court. He says more money is needed to address mental health services, which is a key issue for people dealing with an addiction. "We can definitely do better as it relates to both mental health and substance abuse issues, but the drug court is a beginning," he stated.
As for the future of drug court, Hogshire says he'd like to see the implementation of a blocker drug treatment, provide drug court services for people who get out of jail and have more transitional housing options.