Pocahontas Drug Court Causing Some Confusion For Commissioners & Community Corrections
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Drug Court is causing some confusion for the Pocahontas County Commission and the counties Community Corrections program. The Commissioners and Community Corrections Director Elissa Taylor discussed the program during the Commission meeting Tuesday morning.
The South Eastern West Virginia Regional drug court was opened in Greenbrier County in 2009. Drug court sessions in Pocahontas began last month with very little fanfare. Both are under the supervision of Chief Judge Joseph Pomponio, who serves in the 11th circuit that covers Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties.
The drug court is intended to give non-violent offenders classes and training to get them off of drugs for good. Pocahontas Community Corrections Director Elissa Taylor says the program is raising some issues for Community Corrections.
“We are going to have revenue from doing drug court, and the issue is what are we going to do with that money” says Taylor. “It’s Day Reports’ money, so we can either put it in a new account or we spend it however we need to.”
The Commission agreed to set up a separate bank account to hold the revenues generated by the drug tests Taylor performs for the drug court. But tracking how those funds are used could be more problematic, as revenue is also generated by drug tests done for those in the Pocahontas Day Report Center. Taylor says she’s used some of that money to pay for the teachers at the center.
Commissioner Griffith says using the funds in that way could mask the true cost of the community corrections program. Commission President Martin Saffer points out another problem with this situation, concerning Taylor.
“Part of her services, her salary is going to the drug court because she is administering the test yet, that proportion of her salary is not being paid by drug court” he says. “Is that right?”
There’s also disagreement over whether the revenue should go into the community corrections account or into the counties’ general fund. Commissioner Saffer says he’s like to have Judge Pomponio come and speak to the Commission about the program.
The Commissioners also spoke with Travis Carter, Director of North Central Community Corrections, the organization that oversees the Pocahontas Community Corrections program. When NCCC applied for a grant for the Pocahontas program, the Commission had to agree to meet a cash match for the grant. That match was to be the salary for a second full time employee for the DRC.
However, since that position was not staffed for the first four months of the grant, the state now says that Pocahontas must spend that money or risk losing reimbursement. A heated discussion between Carter and the Commissioners ensued over whether or not the cash match had already been met. Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed to do a budget revision that will allow Taylor to meet the cash match requirement.
Carter did have a piece of good news for the Commissioners. He says the NCCC received a $45,000.00 state grant last week. Five thousand dollars will be used to purchase mandatory forms for the day report centers. The other $40,000.00 will be split among the three counties managed by NCCC.