Jefferson County prosecutors put focus on heroin cases
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dressed in a blue cap and gown, Marcus Miller Jr. smiled for photos as he accepted his diploma from Sullivan College.
"He had his whole entire future ahead of him," Cathy Miller said about her son, who she says graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
It was a proud moment for the family. But about a year after the photos were taken, the Millers discovered Marcus was addicted to heroin.
"He went and hit bottom really fast," Cathy Miller said. "Marcus became a person that he would have never become. He pawned everything. Marcus was stealing from us daily."
They asked Marcus to go to rehab and finally decided to have him arrested. The Millers say Marcus got clean during a short stay in jail but he couldn't resist the drug when he got out. He died of an overdose in July of last year. He was just 26-years-old.
According to state officials, Jefferson County had 204 overdose deaths in 2014 and heroin was detected in 105 of those deaths.
As far as heroin related arrests, prosecutors say there were 190 in 2011 and over 1,500 in 2014.
"The numbers have skyrocketed," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Balenovich.
With the help of a state grant, Balenovich and another prosecutor are now focusing solely on felony heroin cases.
They want to cut down the typical six to nine months it takes to resolve a case through the 'Heroin Rocket Docket.'
The new initiative started Monday.
"What we mainly want to do is get them help as quickly as possible to help them and also protect the public because they're addressing their problems rather than going out and using heroin," Balenovich told WDRB News.
Prosecutors say a drawn out process can lead to more using and more charges.
"If you really are addicted to heroin, the best thing for you is going to be treatment because it's the only way you can get through it," he added. "Heroin is a horrible drug."
Cathy Miller says a judge told her son to go to rehab but he never did.
She wishes the court system had worked better for Marcus.
"You can't get rid of heroin by yourself," she said. "You have to learn how to say no."
The parents don't want to see heroin take more loved ones from their families.
"Losing a child. Nobody should have to go through this pain," Miller said.
The Millers have joined the organization Walking for Wellness: Stop Heroin to help spread awareness.
A walk is planned for Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at Dixie Manor.
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