LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville prosecuting attorneys are facing a massive backlog of heroin related court cases.
In 2011, heroin related arrests in Louisville were around 190. In 2014, it was over 1,500.
“We haven't accomplished all of our goals,” said assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Balenovich. “We are on the way to getting to where we need to be.”
Balenovich, along with fellow assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Diane Arnold, are heading up Jefferson County’s “Rocket Docket.” It’s a program aimed at moving heroin related cases through the court system at a much quicker pace.
“Our main goal in this is to get people who are on heroin into treatment,” Arnold said.
The program began back in August and, so far, the two attorneys have powered through 435 cases. They’re on pace to work through 2400 cases a year. But it's not all about speed.
“We want them in the end to not be charged with a felony and to get treatment and change their life,” Arnold said.
Instead of the typical six to nine months for a case to move through the court system, it’s now taking 28-35 days instead. It’s also aimed at getting the heroin user in a treatment program rather than jail.
“If we can do good with the heroin users," Balenovich said. “Its not just helping them out its helping their families and all the people they know. It affects a lot more people than you think.”
However, that doesn’t mean that the “Rocket Docket” is taking it easy on those dealing the drug.
“We're not here to help out the dealers,” Balenovich said. “We're not going to get them into treatment. We're going to pound them.”
The program is part of a $10 million initiative by the Commonwealth to combat heroin use across the state. The Jefferson County arm of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office received a grant of over $100,000 for it’s version of the “Rocket Docket.” The grant is set to expire in July 2016, but both attorneys hope it will continue past that date.
“We know that its a long road that they have ahead of them,” Arnold said. “This is just one step in the process of them getting help.”