Three months after Judge Edward Hogshire retired, Charlottesville’s Drug Court is still without a permanent judge. Now people are worried about a decline in service for those offenders that need effective rehabilitation.
All eyes are on Virginia legislators in Richmond. The budget has to be approved before a new judge can be appointed, making the drug court another service affected by the continuing debate.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman sits on the advisory council for the drug court. He says the nature of the drug program is unusual because the judge sees offenders on a regular basis, acting as both an authority figure, and a mentor. The program is for nonviolent offenders and puts them through an intense, one-year plan of a weekly court session, testing and treatment.
Two judges are currently filling in as a temporary replacement for former Judge Hogshire, and can't develop that kind of consistent relationship.
"You worry without a consistent drug court judge that the nature and quality of the relationship will be less than what it needs to be and will deteriorate over time, with the result being that people aren't as successful in the program,” said Chapman.
Chapman says the appointed judge also sits on the advisory council, and without someone in place, they lack authority to make larger policy decisions.
A new judge cannot be appointed until the state budget is fully approved, because funding for their salary must be made available. The deadline for the budget is June 30.
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